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Prawn sambal

Australian Gourmet Traveller fast recipe for prawn sambal.

By Emma Knowles
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 15 mins cooking
  • Serves 4
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Prawn sambal
Pungent and spicy, Malaysian prawn sambal makes a moreish snack or, when served with coconut rice, a satisfying meal. It's traditionally served with crisp-fried dried anchovies and peanuts for crunch, although it's just as good served simply with cooling cucumber and soft-boiled eggs.


  • To serve: dried anchovies (ikan bilis) and peanuts
  • To serve: soft-boiled eggs (optional), halved, and thickly sliced Lebanese cucumber
Prawn sambal
  • 15 gm galangal, coarsely chopped
  • 10 gm fresh turmeric, coarsely chopped
  • 2 red or golden shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 4 red birdseye chillies, coarsely chopped, or to taste
  • 2 small dried red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk (white part only), coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp belacan (see note)
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • To taste: soy sauce and lime juice
  • 500 gm medium uncooked prawns, peeled, deveined, tails intact


  • 1
    For prawn sambal, process galangal, turmeric, shallots, garlic, chillies and lemongrass in a small food processor to a paste. Heat oil in a wok or large frying pan, add spice paste and stir-fry until fragrant, adding belacan and tamarind paste in the last 5 minutes of cooking (8-10 minutes). Add 80ml boiling water, adjust seasoning to taste with sugar, soy sauce and lime juice, add prawns and stir occasionally until cooked through (2-4 minutes). Serve hot scattered with ikan bilis and peanuts, and topped with soft-boiled eggs and cucumber.


Note Belacan is a shrimp paste available from Asian grocers.