Chinese, Seafood, Side Dish

Creamy Lemongrass Sambal Prawns

Who’s a lemongrass fan? Me! Who’s a prawn lover? Me! Me! Who’s a sambal fan? Oh yeah… Me! Me! Me! This dish is basically made for ME! Haha Its taste is just like what I envisioned and the zing it provides makes you keep wanting more and more. Enough said. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (tsk sorry lame intro kekeke) This is a Penang peranakan dish.

Creamy Lemongrass Sambal Prawns
Creamy lemongrass sambal prawns โ†’ Love it.

Let’s start cooking.

Roasted Cashew Nuts
Lightly toast cashew nuts in a wok for about 5-10 minutes or until lightly golden. Set aside.

Belacan packet.

Belacan is so intoxicating. It’s my first love. Long before kimchi came along. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Crumble and toast the belacan in a wok until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Extracting Coconut Milk
Making my own coconut milk from grated coconut bought from sundry shop. The recipe asks for 100ml thick coconut milk and 200ml thin coconut milk. First, add 100ml water to the grated coconut. Then squeeze the coconut milk to a container below with a strainer in between to catch the falling grated coconut. Another way is using a cloth strainer. My way is called the lazy way because I hate washing the cloth strainer. ๐Ÿ˜› Once done, repeat the same process but this time add 200ml water to the grated coconut to yield thin coconut milk.

Sliced Shallots & Garlic
Slice shallots and garlic thinly.

Tamarind Pulp aka Asam Jawa
A packet of tamarind pulp. Keep in fridge once open. The same goes with belacan.

Tamarind Pulp aka Asam Jawa
This is how tamarind pulp (paste) looks like. In Malay, it’s called asam jawa.
Don’t confuse this with tamarind peel which is called asam gelugor or asam keping.

Lemongrass. Trim the top and bottom a little.

Chop Lemongrass Into 3 Sections
Chop lemongrass into 3 sections. Remove browned and wilting leaves.

Pound Lemongrass
Using the top end of a cleaver, pound lemongrass to release the fragrant.

Pounded Lemongrass
Pounded lemongrass. You can also use a pestle to pound the lemongrass.

Fry Garlic & Shallots
Heat 100ml oil in wok and fry garlic until aromatic and golden. Remove the fried garlic and put in a bowl. Repeat with the shallots. Remove and set aside. (Just realized I mix up the photos, the bottom photos should be switched).

Saute Lemongrass & Belacan
Using the same oil, saute lemongrass and belacan. Add oil if not enough.

Mix Tamarind Pulp To Coconut Milk
In a bowl, mix thin coconut milk with tamarind pulp. Strain it.

Add Coconut Milk
Then add the thin coconut milk+tamarind to the wok. Break up any lumpy belacan with wok turner. Let mixture boil and then give the liquid a taste. Add salt if necessary. I added 1/2 tsp salt (following the initial recipe) without tasting and ended with quite a salty dish. This is because I forgot that belacan itself is salty.

Add Prawns
Then add prawns and stir until cooked. Then add thick coconut milk.

Add Fried Shallots & Garlic
Lastly, add half of the fried garlic and shallots. Mix until combined, turn off heat and plate it.

Creamy Lemongrass Sambal Prawns
Add the remaining garlic, shallots, chilies and cashew nuts. Serve hot with rice.

Creamy Lemongrass Sambal Prawns

Creamy Lemongrass Sambal Prawns aka Sambal Serai Prawn
Adapted from Nyonya Flavors
Serves 2-3

100g raw, whole cashew nuts
100ml oil
3 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
4 shallots, sliced thinly
4 stalks lemongrass, chopped and pounded
10g belacan (shrimp paste), toasted and crumbled
200ml thin coconut milk
5g tamarind pulp
300g medium-sized prawns, shelled and deveined
100ml thick coconut milk (from 1/2 coconut)
salt to taste, NOTE: belacan is salty itself

1 red chili, seeded and chopped
2 green chilies, seeded and chopped – I omitted this

1. Lightly toast the cashew nuts in a wok until lightly golden. Set aside.

2. Heat 100ml oil in a wok. Fry garlic until aromatic and golden. Dish out and then repeat the same with shallots. Place fried shallots in another bowl and set aside.

3. With the same oil, saute lemongrass and belacan. Add more cooking oil if necessary.

4. In a bowl, mix tamarind pulp into the thin coconut milk. Strain mixture and add to the wok. Bring mixture to the boil. If there’s any lumpy belacan, use the wok turner to break it up. Now give the mixture a taste, add salt if necessary.

5. Add prawns and once cooked, add thick coconut milk and half the amount of fried garlic and shallots. Mix until combined and plate out.

6. Garnish with chili, cashew nuts and the remaining garlic and shallots. Serve warm.


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  • Reply foongpc April 9, 2013 at 2:11 am

    Wow! Yum!! This looks so delicious!! And I am a fan of lemongrass, prawns and sambal!! : )

    • Reply Che-Cheh April 9, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      Come, dig into it. Haha ๐Ÿ˜›

  • Reply Constance Ant April 17, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    this is actually an appetising dish! but fattening…gulp

    • Reply Che-Cheh April 17, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      Donโ€™t think about the fattening part. Eat first. Hehe

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