Dec 15

Malaysian Prawn Sambal

Nasi Lemak




I haven’t had a good lip-smacking prawn sambal in years, and I miss it. I usually get to enjoy this dish when I am at my aunt’s house and she has cooked nasi lemak for the whole family. It is wonderfully aromatic from all the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, and one serving is never enough. Couple that with coconut rice and you are set for the rest of the day.



Nasi lemak is quite possibly the national dish of Malaysia; many have grown up eating this stuff and continue to rely on it as part of their daily food intake. It is fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves. The rice is then served with an array of condiments that includes cold cucumber slices, hard boiled eggs, fried anchovies, salted peanuts and sambal. Traditionally all this is then wrapped up in banana leaves and sold on the street as ‘take away’. These days it is rare to find these rice parcels actually wrapped in banana leaves, with many preferring to wrap it in food-grade plastic or wax paper instead. Side-dishes have also diversified to include a wide variety of curries, sambals and rendangs. When I was growing up a plate cost just RM 0.50 and it only came in one way: the traditional way. Now you can personalize your nasi lemak as tho you are ordering a sandwich at Subway. People can have squid sambal, beef rendang, fried chicken or hard boiled egg sambal. The Chinese have also come up with their own version which includes pork curry. And packets of this stuff can go up to as much as RM 7. How times have changed.




Nasi Lemak4




The good news is nasi lemak is fairly easy to make if you can find the right ingredients in your town … but I’ll make a separate post for that another day. Today I will focus on this delicious prawn and coconut cream sambal.



  • 1 kg prawns, shelled and deveined
  • 10 dried chillies, soaked and deseeded (or use pre-made sambal Oelek)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 inch dried shrimp paste (belaccan)
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp
  • 2 inch ginger root
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 large shallots
  • 4 large red onions
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 8 leaves kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp sugar (adjust to taste)




Place the shallots, chillies, ginger, lemongrass, dried prawns, garlic and shrimp paste in a blender. Blend everything to form a dry paste.



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Slice the red onions thinly into half-moons. Adjust the number of onions to suit the amount of sambal you are planning to make. Heat up some vegetable oil in a frying pan and gently sautée the red onion slices on low heat until soft and slightly caramelized.




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Once the onions have wilted down and become fragrant, add the dry paste from the blender to the frying pan. Keep moving things around and make sure not to burn the spices. If using sambal oelek from a jar, add it in only after you have given the spices a decent frying. Add water and coconut cream. Simmer on low to reduce the liquid. Taste for seasoning here ~ add sugar and salt.

Now add the prawns and kaffir lime leaves. Toss to coat with the fragrant sauce. Simmer for just a couple of minutes then turn off the heat; residual heat will continue to cook the prawns through. To finish, sprinkle the top with chopped coriander leaves.



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This dish is fast and simple to make … it just takes a bit of knowledge and practice on how to prevent burning of the spices. A shallow, non-stick pan is your best bet. This sambal is sooooooo tasty you would wish you didn’t have to share; quite literally finger lickin’ good. Served with hot coconut rice and feel your heart melt. I know I did and I thought I had died and gone to heaven today. However, it could be a combination of not having eaten nasi lemak in a very long time.



Nasi Lemak2





My boyfriend does not like nasi lemak and stays well away from this stuff. Makes me a happier me coz now I don’t have to share! He’s Aussie, and the only prawns he’s interested in are prawns cooked on the barbeque … how cliché.  *rolls eyes*



Anyway, give this a go and tune in next time if you want to find out how to make nasi lemak. For now I think I want to help myself to another serve of this prawn sambal.



~ Enjoy!~


Permanent link to this article: http://foodflurries.com/savoury/malaysian-prawn-sambal


  1. kerry

    ur sambal udang tumis is like foodporn :))))

    ps: gonna see what monster avatar i get this time…

  2. Claire

    ur monster avatar looks surprised… why is that?

    1. bubviv

      Coz you don’t comment enough on my posts. 🙂

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