I bet people who grew up in South East Asian countries know this signature ingredient, dried shrimp paste. Many things I'd like to share here including different names of this ingredient in different countries, 3 different types of terasi in Indonesia and also how to choose a good terasi (pronounce: terrasee).
Based on wikipedia, here are several different names:
Terasi (in Indonesia)
Belacan/Belachan (in Malaysia and Singapore)
Bagoong Alamang (in the Philippines)
Mắm Ruốc, Mắm Tép and Mắm Tôm (in Vietnam, the name depends on the shrimp used)
Kapi (in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand)
Ngapi (in Burma)
However, the Dutch knows this as "Trassi" and it's actually pronounced the same as Indonesians read a word "terasi" quickly.
As a natural food flavoring, terasi is a legacy hereditary produced by generations of fisherman communities in Indonesia. Currently, terasi is still produced traditionally. Some areas are known as producers of terasi is Bagansiapi-api. However, many little towns in Java island are known as the centre of home-based shrimp industries such as Sidoarjo, Rembang, Indramayu, Cirebon and Pati.
Since I grew up in Sidoarjo, I love Ny Siok terasi. It's very popular brand of terasi in Indonesia which I only can get from Vancouver. For this recipe, I used Cirebon's brand.
I found a good article about terasi from my almamater website. Unfortunately, it is written in Indonesian. So, I tried to take the main parts and translated for this post. In Indonesia, terasi is not only made from shrimp, but fish too. So, there are 3 types of terasi, terasi udang (dried shrimp paste), terasi ikan (dried fish paste) and terasi kombinasi ikan dan udang (dried shrimp and fish paste). Most Indonesians like the shrimp one, since it has more pleasant aroma and tastes more delicious.
Quality of terasi on the market depends on raw material quality, processing, and packaging products. A good-quality terasi can be marked by its colour, ie dark brown or black. The black colour of terasi is a natural. Color pigments were derived from fish or shrimp. Never ever choose the red colour since it contains Rhodamine B which is used to dye textiles. Research has shown that the continuous use of Rhodamine B will cause to liver cancer, kidney and bladder.
I have no background of Chinese language, thou I lived side by side with Chinese communities (especially the Peranakan) in Indonesia. Rasa Malaysia has told me on the Indonesia Eats facebook page that cah is actually a Chinese dialect for stir fry. She was quite surprised that Indonesian uses that word for stir fry. Actually, there are 3 Indonesian words for stir fry; cah, tumis and oseng (or oseng-oseng).
I know two kinds of water spinach or morning glory (kangkung), kangkung air (English: water morning glory, Science: Ipomoea aquatica Forsk., Malay: kangkong air) and kangkung darat (English: garden morning glory, Science: Ipomoea reptana Poir., Malay: kangkong kampong).