Hae bee hiam, a Hokkien term loosely translated to “spicy dried shrimp”, is a misnomer for this sambal-free, kid-friendly condiment. While we think up a better name for it, hae bee hiam is a must-have to whip up a quick meal when supplies are low in the kitchen, or when you’re feeling uninspired.
This condiment is super easy to make, although it takes a while to cook. It is so versatile I make it religiously every time it runs out, spending 20 minutes over the stove stirring it to crispy golden bits.
I use it to fry rice, flavour noodles and as a sandwich filling. The kids love it over quail’s eggs and mini sticks of Japanese cucumber. It adds a rich prawny unami flavour to omelettes and salads. The older folks in the family would stir-fry long beans, brinjal, lady’s fingers, petai or any green leafy veggies with it. On lazy days, a dash of it over a bowl of steaming hot rice is plain comfort.
NON-SPICY HAE BEE HIAM
200g dried shrimp, washed and drained
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1. Place dried shrimp, garlic and onions into a food processor or chopper and mince until fine.
2. Heat oil in a wok or frying pan.
3. Add minced ingredients and fry, stirring constantly, for about 20 minutes until golden and crispy.
4. Transfer to a plate, cool at room temperature and store in an air-tight container.
Photo by Lim Tsiao Hui