Hay Bee Hiam (or hae bi hiam or however you want to spell it), is a delicious dish that is popular in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. I want to say that it is Peranakan, but I am really unsure about that. As a kid, I didn’t like hay bee hiam. It looked red, spicy and really scary. Now, I love it!
It can be it’s own dish, or it can be a condiment too. You can wrap Nyonya kuehs with hay bee hiam, you can eat it with Teochew porridge, you can put it in a Chinese stirfry, or you can have it on toast [that's already four ways in four different cultures for you to use your hay bee hiam.] Everyone should have a bottle of hay bee hiam at home. I like mine really crisp like fish floss :)
This is my grandma’s recipe. She adds pork bits to the hay bee hiam and I think the pork gives the dish a more fulfilling texture (something that doesn’t just crumble away), and is a surprise. You don’t know if you’ll get pork in that mouthful, but you hope you might!
Note: If you don’t want to add pork, just add the same amount of dried shrimp in lieu of pork. It will work out just fine.
- 2/3 cup hay bee (dried shrimp), soaked in warm water for an hour or so
- 3 to 4 tablespoons chili paste or sambal belacan (depending on how spicy you like it)
- 1/3 lb pork, cut into tiny strips
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of white sugar (depending on how much chili you use)
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- salt to taste
Drain the hay bee from the water, and pound it in a mortar until it becomes something like a powder. (Depending on how you like yours, I left some tiny bits of shrimp for texture.)
In a heated pan, add oil and fry the hay bee until it is fragrant and no longer damp – has a powder like consistency.
Push the hay bee to one side of the pan, and fry the pork pieces on the other side until it is cooked.
When the pork is cooked, combine the pork and dried shrimp, then add sugar, salt and chili paste. Fry until combined and dry (not damp!)
Let cool and serve. We keep ours in a glass bottle in the fridge.