Maybe you’ve had this experience: You open a jar of fermented shrimp paste in the kitchen, then discover 75 mewling neighborhood cats when you open the door to get some fresh air. It’s not funny, but it’s true that some Asian seafood pastes put off an aroma that travels four miles in every direction.
That’s not the case with Por Kwan Instant Seafoods Clear Soups Paste, so don’t be afraid to pick up a jar the next time you see it at Jay International. this versatile soup concentrate is actually rather mild beyond the natural fish flavors.
And, the flavor is quite natural. This paste consists of nothing more than onion garlic, salt, water, sugar, palm oil, crab meat, squid powder, shrimp powder, pepper and citric acid. It appears that a few kaffir lime leaves are included in every jar, but they’re not listed in the ingredients. It’s produced in Thailand by the NR. Instant Produce Co. Ltd. (do visit their charming website), and I couldn’t be more grateful to this upstanding food company. At $1.89 for an 8 oz. jar, it’s an excellent value.
I have added this paste to my two-portion skillet version of clean-out-the-fridge gumbo with excellent results. With that in mind, there’s no reason to believe that it wouldn’t work well in an Italian cioppino, or even a cream-based New England seafood chowder.
But forget my deviations for now. It’s intended to be used as the base for Thai seafood tom yum soups, which is a style of hot and sour soup with lots of lemongrass as a bright aromatic. The Por Kwan paste doesn’t include any of the classic tom yum seasonings, like chiles, tamarind and lemongrass, so you’ll need to add them yourself. Luckily, there are many varieties of excellent instant tom yum spice paste available to make this quick and easy.
I recently made a shrimp tom yum using the Por Kwan paste in conjunction with my favorite tom yum paste, and the results were remarkable. Read about it here.