Malaysian/Singaporean · Recipes

Prawn Sambal

Here is my first batch of prawn sambal, based on a recipe given to me from my friend Malini Ganesan who is a wonderful cook and keeps herself sane in Germany with a curry, laksa or sambal here and there to break up the delicious meatiness and carbohydrate-rich German cuisine.
I have included the recipe below in case anyone would like to try it themselves and let me know what you think. It is very tasty eaten with a curry on the side, lots of basmati rice, and please, do try eating it with your fingers. Mush the sambal into the rice bit by bit. It is irresistable, pungent, spicy and addictive. It is the only way to truly experience it. Well, that and in the traditional Nasi Lemak of course, see post on Temasek Restaurant for dishes included in Nasi Lemak.
The curry I made above was fish and eggplant curry from a Madhur Jaffery cookbook.
Prawn Sambal

  • 10 dried red chillis
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 2-3 stalks lemon grass, thick outer layers removed, finely sliced
  • 5-10 red asian eschallots, sliced
  • 1 tbsp belachan (shrimp paste, solid block)
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp peeled and chopped ginger, pounded to a paste in a mortar and pestle (if you don’t have a mortar and pestle you can chop it very finely)
  • 1 tbsp sambal oelek
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 2-4 tbsp ikan bilis from asian grocer
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice


  1. Blend chilli, garlic, lemongrass, eschallots and belachan to a fine paste in a blender or small food processor, adding a tablespoon of oil until a rough paste forms.
  2. Fry paste in a few tablespoons of oil for a few minutes or until fragrant. Remove paste from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, reserving some oil in the pan.
  3. Fry onion in the same oil over a low to medium heat until clear. Add pounded ginger and cook for one minute. Add chilli/garlic mixture and fry for one minute. Add sambal oelek, fry until dark.
  4. Add tomato puree and cook until oil separates and comes to the top of the mixture. Add dried shrimp, stir. Finish by stirring in lemon juice. Serve with lots of basmati rice, a curry or some dahl on the side.

There is a lovely light mustardy tasting broth called Sambar that moistens the rice and the sambal and is very nourishing that I need to get the recipe for, will post it here if I can persuade Malini to part with it 🙂 She has agreed to share, will post soon.