Kapi(shrimp paste) is a condiment used throughout the Southeast Asian sub-continent and southern China. Shrimp paste is believed to have originated with fisherman who needed to preserve the shrimp they caught so they could be eaten later, or, according to another theory, because they wanted to find a way to preserve their shrimp in times when they could not sell them all fresh.
In Thailand, there are many kinds of shrimp paste to choose from. Each has its own qualities, ingredients, and methods of production, depending on the region they are made in. Most shrimp pastes are made with krill, which are plentiful along the shores of the Andaman coast, thus making coastline communities common places to produce shrimp paste.
Shrimp paste in South Thailand is called khoey and has three varieties:
• Khoey-goong involves fermenting krill with salt for one night, then putting them out in the sun, after which they are ground up or milled into a fine consistency. After this, the mixture is again put out in the sun before being put in banana leaf baskets or sieves for another 7 days, at which point it can be consumed.
• Khoey-pla is a shrimp paste made from freshwater fish. The most well known variety of khoey-pla is from the Thale Noi. The paste is made the same way as khoey-goong, although with the fish’s heads removed and their scales scraped off before fermentation.
• Khoey-goong-waan is made like khoey-goong but is ground and baked in the sun three separate times. On the third iteration, the paste is ground with palm sugar.
Kapi-khai-nui is made from the best of ingredients, including fresh, top-quality krill from the sea in SuratThani province, and the finest of sea salt.
Kapi-khlong-khon is a famous variety of shrimp paste from the SamutSongKhram province. It has a fragrant, sweet smell and isn’t too salty. It is a product local to SamutSongKhram. It is made from krill or “kapi shrimp,” which are similar to normal shrimp but smaller and without the sharp plates around their heads. Like shrimp, they are transparent with black eyes. They live in mangrove forests around the roots of trees such as mangrove trees, black mangrove trees, and cork trees.Kapi-khlong-khon is made from the finest of krill whose bodies are soft and small.
The bay of Thailand between the Bang Pakong River and the Chao Phraya river abounds with krill throughout the year, and thus, is a major production center for shrimp paste. Shrimp paste made there has a specific characteristic: its texture is dry not wet and has an aroma different from that of kabekhlongkhon. Areas that produce this kind of shrimp paste include Song Khlong sub-district in Chachoengsao province and the Long Daan sub-district in SamutPrakan province.