In search of shrimp paste and basil

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MCNB
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In search of shrimp paste and basil

Post by MCNB » Wed, 16 Sep 2009 1:43 am

I feel ridiculous posting this but I have been to four grocery stores (Giant, Cold Storage, Fair Price, and the grocery at Chong Pang) looking for shrimp paste (preferably a jar, not dried). It's something I found easily in the US but cannot find here. I've asked clerks at each store and they seem surprised -- or are just being polite -- when we can't find any on the shelves. It's called for in many recipes.

Is there a certain brand name I should be asking for?

On a related note, at the Chong Pang wet market almost none of the produce vendors speak English and did not know what I was asking for when I said "Basil". Is there some other word I should be using? Just curious. Maybe they were just all out, as I did not see any but I was definitely annoying them. (Yes, I saw a tiny box at Cold Storage but I am looking for a bunch. I'll probably just plant some.) Thanks.

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Post by jpatokal » Wed, 16 Sep 2009 11:33 am

Shrimp paste is ubiquitous in Singapore, just ask for "belachan". Not sure if this is the same as what you were using in the US though?

Basil is not used in local cooking and you won't find it in wet markets. If you need big bunches of cheap herbs for a party or whatever, head to Mustafa, which has ridiculously huge bags of most anything you'd need for $1 or less. The cheapest solution, though, is to get a pot at any larger gardening shop (eg. Far East Flora) and water it daily -- I paid $5 and it's still going strong 3 months later.
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Re: In search of shrimp paste and basil

Post by local2009 » Wed, 16 Sep 2009 4:26 pm

MCNB wrote:I feel ridiculous posting this but I have been to four grocery stores (Giant, Cold Storage, Fair Price, and the grocery at Chong Pang) looking for shrimp paste (preferably a jar, not dried). It's something I found easily in the US but cannot find here. I've asked clerks at each store and they seem surprised -- or are just being polite -- when we can't find any on the shelves. It's called for in many recipes.

Is there a certain brand name I should be asking for?

On a related note, at the Chong Pang wet market almost none of the produce vendors speak English and did not know what I was asking for when I said "Basil". Is there some other word I should be using? Just curious. Maybe they were just all out, as I did not see any but I was definitely annoying them. (Yes, I saw a tiny box at Cold Storage but I am looking for a bunch. I'll probably just plant some.) Thanks.
I am surprised you couldn't find shrimp paste. I am not sure exactly where you could find it (I will need to check out supermarkets before replying here again) as I haven't bought one myself. However, from Rojak to Shrimp Paste chicken (Ha Chong Kai), Shrimp paste is commonly used.

Try to ask using hokkien "Hei Go" (Shrimp Paste) when you go to supermarket or wet markets.

PS: I will take a look when i shop at supermarkets.

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Asian_Geekette
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Post by Asian_Geekette » Wed, 16 Sep 2009 4:51 pm

I just saw jars of shrimp paste in Carrefour (at Plaza Singapura) last Saturday. Oddly enough, it's not with other condiments (like soy sauce). It's on a shelf which is not part of the "aisle stuff." Or what looked like an extension shelf which contains stuff totally unrelated to the other stuff in that aisle.
My business is not to remake myself, but make the absolute best out of what God made. -Robert Browning

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Post by macaroonie » Wed, 16 Sep 2009 5:43 pm

My friend there is so much basil in little india! heaps and heaps of it in the wet markets of little india. Sometimes but not always there are small bozes of local basil at NTUC fairprice. And in the organic herb section at Carefour you will find small packets of basil.

But the best place and the most plentiful and the cheapest is at the wet markets of little india, it's everywhere

Good luck!

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basil

Post by sixdegrees » Thu, 17 Sep 2009 10:56 am

You can get a small pot of basil in Cold storage for about three dollars, then just repot it in a larger pot with more soil. I did that and it's doing really well over a month later. Or you can get a nice big Basil plant in one of the nurseries up north in Kranji.

I also planted some basil seeds. And they're growing really big.

Good luck,
Maida
A food and travel writer and author based in Singapore always looking a for a new adventure to embark on. www.sixdegreesofexpatriation.
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jpatokal
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Post by jpatokal » Thu, 17 Sep 2009 11:33 am

macaroonie wrote:My friend there is so much basil in little india! heaps and heaps of it in the wet markets of little india.
Really? Are you sure it's European (sweet) basil? I thought Indian cooking uses holy basil (tulsi).
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Post by x9200 » Thu, 17 Sep 2009 3:42 pm

jpatokal wrote:
macaroonie wrote:My friend there is so much basil in little india! heaps and heaps of it in the wet markets of little india.
Really? Are you sure it's European (sweet) basil? I thought Indian cooking uses holy basil (tulsi).
http://www.coldstorage.com.sg/onlinesho ... arch=basil

I also bought many times in a small flower pot as mentioned above.

MCNB
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thanks for the suggestions

Post by MCNB » Thu, 17 Sep 2009 8:37 pm

Thanks, I'll try looking again for shrimp paste by the names suggested, and will likely just grow my own basil.

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Post by macaroonie » Tue, 22 Sep 2009 9:39 am

Not sure whether it's european sweet basil, but there is plenty of it and it's delicious, why don't you have a look and see if it's what you want. Good luck!

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