I recently saw a recipe for vatapa, a Brazilian shrimp stew that looks kind of like a curry gravy in texture. The recipe calls for a reconstituting handful of dried shrimp and then blending it into a paste. Could I substitute a jar of shrimp paste from my local Vietnamese/Thai grocery store, or would dried shrimp be the most appropriate thing to use?
Asian shrimp paste is fermented and very strong and salty — I don't think it's going to give you the same kind of flavor as dried shrimp at all.
While Asian shrimp paste might not be an ideal substitute for the reasons @Henry Jackson mentioned, dried shrimp can be often found in Korean shops since it is often used in Kimchee preparation. These will work well for Vatapá.