Auntie Ruby's Sambal Prawns (Sambal Udang)

Monday, September 26, 2011

This is my third crustacean recipe.

You may recall my lament on how crustacean-like the aliens are in Hollywood movies. Prawns can look downright scary. My second post - fried Assam fully dressed ones - did not fare very well in the looks department either. 

I have to say though, that this particular one looks ravishing. Stripped off from their head gears and gowns, naked for a brief moment and then coated in a spicy red glistening sauce, they are dressed and ready for the dinner ball.

And best of all, if you are like my wife, you will love the fact that you don't need to do any peeling at the dinner table. As all good spouses do, I sometimes have to do that for her. With this, I can focus on my own prawns.

Before I forget, remember this  - after peeling your raw prawn meat, NEVER throw away the heads and shells. Never. It is almost an unpardonable sin in the culinary world, home kitchens included. Heads and shells make for lovely stock, bisque or broth. Keep them in your freezer.

This dish is one of my Mum's favourite. It is simple to make. She has only one "secret" for this dish, if you can call it as such: the blended lemon grass.

Blended lemon grass

Auntie Ruby's Sambal Prawns (Sambal Udang)
To serve about 6 pax

1 kg of Prawns
200 ml Oil
3 stalks Lemon Grass
10 pieces Dried Red Chillies
1 slice of belachan
5 Kaffir Lime Leafs
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Sugar

2 Cucumber (quantity as desired)
A bunch of Mint Leaves (quantity as desired)
5 pieces of Lime

  1. Peel the prawns. Add 1 tsp salt and corn flour to the meat and fridge it for 30 minutes.
  2. Dice up the white part of the lemon grass and blend it.
  3. Soak dried chillies in hot water for 10 minutes. Remove and blend.
  4. Dice the kaffir lime leafs. Pluck the mint leaves and cut up the cucumber, skin-on or skinless, up to you. 
  1. Heat up the oil in the wok. In smaller batches, fry the prawns till they are golden orange in color. Add in enough oil and keep the prawns moving to prevent sticking to the wok. Set aside the prawns. 
  2. Using the same oil in the wok, add the belachan, chili paste and blended lemon grass. Simmer for 15 minutes. Along the way, season with sugar and salt, to taste.
  3. Add the prawns back in, the diced lime leafs and stir fry for 2 minutes. Serve alongside with sliced cucumber, mint leaves and halved limes. Squeeze in the lime juice when served at the dinner table.
Some notes: 
  1. Don't leave out the mint leaves: God created it for this dish. 
  2. You can add "petai" (smelly beans) to this dish - believe me, the aroma is out of this world :) 
  3. Serve this with rice. This is another dish which is eaten best with your hand. 
Did you know that there are etiquette rules to observe when using your hands to eat?
  1. When you push the rice into your mouth, use your thumb to shove the rice in. Heard of "thumbdrive"?
  2. Lick your fingers if you must, aka Col Sanders. But never suck them or make loud noises as you do so. 
  3. If you have painted nails, please remove them first (the paint, not your nails).
  4. Never shake your hands with another person while eating.
  5. Never use another person's hands for your own food... and never offer to another with yours.
  6. Leave your Iphone alone when you feel the urge to reply a SMS. 
  7. Don't scratch your head or face while eating with your hands. Come to think of it, the same applies even if you are using a spoon. 

  8. Jokes aside, get your hands on this. It is just a bit of effort for a very appetizing experience.
    Don't forget the cucumber and mint leaves. 

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  1. Can know about future information about sambal udang origin?

  2. love love love your blog!

    Haven't tried any of the recipes yet but first on the list would be 'Aunty Ruby's Char Siew. I am sure it will turn out great. I have been using LKK char siew sauce, its okay but not quite what I am looking for.

    Thanks for such practical tips!

  3. this looks delicious, can't wait to try it! How much of the lemongrass do you blend? only the white part at the bottom or the whole thing?