Next up in the sauces series is…. What we in Malaysia call ‘Hae Kor'(Hokkien). or ‘Har Gou’ (cantonese). It is commonly found in squeeze bottles, ready for adding to a dish called Asam Laksa – a famous hawker center / street food / night market food in Malaysia. It is also often used as the dressing in Rojak – which is a type of fruit salad. I found this in a Chinese Supermarket months and months ago – and I grab it because I had never seen it in a jarred form before and I got very excited. I knew what it was – I’m one of those who always asks for extra hae kor at the asam laksa stall…… but seeing as I have never attempted to make rojak or asam laksa at home…. having the hae kor on it’s own didn’t immediately bring any inspiration on how to use it.
It stayed in my cupboard for months… and then one day I decided to buy a pineapple and just use the hae kor as a dip. It worked. It was YUM. I was hooked. So what is it? It’s ingredients are : water, wheat flour, sugar, shrimp (9%), salt. It’s a sweet salty fragrant condiment. It literally means shrimp paste. Don’t confuse this with belachan or terasi. This is NOT FERMENTED and isn’t used for cooking. It also doesn’t smell bad, unlike the fermented stuff. It is added to salads and noodle dishes as extra flavour / dressing right before eating.
Taste : Predominantly sweet, with a hint of savoury and shrimp.
What is it good with : As a dressing for raw hard fruit & veg such as pineapple, guava (pic), raw courgette, radishes. Also as a condiment for tamarind or tom yum type dishes. Dishes which are spicy and tangy and work well with shrimp
I don’t think one has to be particularly adventurous to try this. It doesn’t smell or taste awful. What I struggle with with this is what to actually use it for. My local Loon Fung seems to stock this regularly now though, so I don’t have to impulse-buy it anymore and if I ever do plan on using it for something, I can buy it there and then. No need to have one in the cupboards at all times! Yay!
ps : it’s not intended to go with tom yum paste… but actually… it works very well! (onions, garlic, lemongrass, chilli, tom yum paste, veg, protein, lime juice, enough water to make a thin soup – serve over rice noodles).