Sri Lankan Shrimp Chili Paste

Sri Lankan Shrimp Chili Paste on display with filled up mason jar.

Sri Lankan Shrimp Chili Paste is a famous condiment that has an army of fans. This Chili Paste is not your ordinary Chili paste. When you think of a Chili Paste, predominantly it is made out of ground Chili peppers. But the Sri Lankan version is not only made with Dried Chili Peppers; it also has Sun Dried Shrimp.

Sri Lankan Shrimp Chili Paste in a bowl.

I remember eating my first ever Chili Paste as a side for Fried Rice, from a famous Restaurant called ” The Chinese Dragon” many moons ago. Back then, I never knew how it was made. But the taste was intriguing, I became a fan of this complex yet enticing taste.

Sri Lankan Shrimp Chili Paste in a Le creuset pan.

Recreating food from the past is my current hobby. I am going to take you along with me to show how to make this Chili Paste at home. Just to warn you, this recipe will be using some ingredients that are different from an original style of recipe. But I can assure you, it is nothing less compared to the authentic taste.

I would even say, this version is a teeny, tiny bit on the healthier side considering the reduced amount of oil that this one requires.

Fried rice with Chili paste on a plate.

The versatility of this Chili paste is endless. You can add this paste to any of your savory food to spice it up; or it can even add some extra flavor to a dish. Usually this Chili Paste is accompanied with some fried rice. In my household though, this Chili Paste is paired with many meals. Some mornings I add it to my Avocado egg toast. Some lazy days, I make a quick fried rice, the chili paste just gives it some extra flavour. Another favorite of my husband is to sprinkle some onto Crackers/Nachos when snacking. I sometimes add it to soups and pastas as well. Like I mentioned before, this is a Sri Lankan favorite, comparable to how some people use Sriracha on pretty much anything.

Sri Lankan Shrimp Chili Paste on display with the scooped out spoon of chili paste.

I have substituted a few of the ingredients in this recipe. I have used, fresh shell on Shrimp instead of dried shrimp. I have used Red Pepper flakes; aka Chili flakes instead of whole dried chilies. I have used ACV instead of regular vinegar. Choosing good quality shrimp is always best for this recipe. I prefer buying wild caught shrimp instead of farmed shrimp, since we will be using almost all of the shrimp parts including the shell. Do not forget to devein the shrimp as we don’t want to eat the intestinal tracts of the shrimp.

Ingredients on display to make Sri Lankan Shrimp Chili Paste recipe.

This recipe would require some extra time for prepping; cleaning, slicing and frying. But once you have all the ingredients prepped, fried and grounded; final step of the chili paste will only take a few minutes.

Shallow fried ingredients for Shrimp paste recipe.

Have all of your pre-prepared items close by before turning the stove / cooker on. We don’t want to burn any ingredients here, specially the chilies. We are working with spicy Chili flakes here and we do not want any burnt chili fumes to ruin our day.

Sri Lankan Shrimp Chili Paste preparation with a Kitchen aid mini food processor.

This recipe will yield two 8 oz mason jars. I prefer storing them in two sperate jars rather than one. Reason being, small mason jars are easy to access; I do not want to contaminate a whole batch of bottle, every time I open to take a spoonful or two.

Sri Lankan Shrimp Chili Paste on display with filled up mason jar and wooden spoon.

This Chili paste is also bit on the dryer side in appearance compared to anything you would have seen in a store bought jar or a restaurant meal. My recipe is showing you a way to achieve the same taste with less oil and it is a win-win situation. Let me know how you like it. Enjoy cooking.

Sri Lankan Shrimp Chili Paste

Yields Two 8 oz Mason jarsPrep-time 30 mins | Cook-time 30 mins


  • 200 g Shell on Shrimp.
  • 1 cup Dried Red Pepper Flakes / Chili Flakes.
  • 1 cup Thinly Sliced Onions.
  • 1/4 cup Sliced Garlic.
  • 1/4 cup Sliced Ginger.
  • 2 tablespoons of Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • 3 tablespoons of Soya Sauce.
  • 3 tablespoons of Sugar.
  • Salt per taste.
  • Oil as required.
  • 2 Sterilized Mason Jar for storing.


  • Clean the Shrimp by deveining, removing the head but leaving all the leg parts and the shell behind.
  • Thinly slice the Onion, Garlic, Ginger and keep aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix in the ACV, Soya sauce, Sugar and keep aside.
  • Take a frying pan, shallow fry the Shrimp until well done. Strain from oil and keep aside.
  • Shallow fry the Onion, Garlic, Ginger separately and set aside.
  • In a food processor grind the fried Shrimp, fried Onion, fried Garlic, fried ginger to a shredded consistency.
  • Take a large heavy bottom pan and keep in medium flame.
  • Once the pan is hot, spoon in 1-2 Tablespoon of oil to the pan.
  • Pour in the liquid mixture(ACV, Soya sauce, Sugar ) into the pan. Simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add in the grounded Shrimp mixture to the pan. Stir well for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the Dried Red Chili flakes. Stir and mix for 5 -10 minutes until all the chili is incorporated with the shrimp mixture.
  • Add extra 1-2 teaspoon of Soya sauce/ Oil if your mixture is too dry(optional).
  • Add Salt. Taste test the paste.
  • Adjust/add extra Sugar if required at this point.
  • Let the Chili paste cool down completely before storing in an airtight jar.
  • Keep the jars in the fridge to store.


  • You can dry roast the Dried Red Pepper Flakes / Chili Flakes but not mandatory (do this in a well ventilated area or with stove fan on)
  • If using whole dried chilies in this recipe, then you will be frying them for few minutes while retaining their red color. Roughly around 4 cups of whole dried chilies (150 g / medium sized and stemless) will be required for this recipe.
  • When grinding the fried ingredients, do not over grind or make a complete paste/ puree. It should be a shredded texture. Refer to the picture above.
  • I used Avocado oil for Shallow frying as it has high smoke point. You can also use Coconut oil or any other healthy oil choice.
  • If you really prefer more of an oily or wet type if a Chili paste, you can add extra oil to the pan at the beginning where oil is used.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *