Sambal Prawns with Belimbing

Monday, April 01, 2019

Everyone in once in a while, church members will give me a bagful of green belimbing fruit.

This longish oval sour fruit has a pretty bright green colour which turns yellow and will soften if it is too ripe. It is best cooked when it is still green and firm.

Colour and taste-wise, it is a perfect combination with prawn sambal. You can cut the fruit in thin slices or halves. Some will even cook it whole. It cooks fast and so, you need to vary your cooking time according to it's size.

There is an interesting post on this fruit here.

This recipe is simple. You cook the prawn sambal first and then, you add the belimbing slices and stir for a further minute before you dish out.

Use fresh prawns. The prawns need to be cooked quickly. If you cook it too slowly (i.e. with oil that is not hot enough or by overcrowding), the meat will not be firm. So, make sure the sambal you have cooked is hot before you add prawns to it.

If you are cooking a large portion, I will recommend two-stage frying. Use some heated oil to quickly cook small batches of the peeled prawns. Then you use the same oil to fry the sambal before coating the cooked prawns with it. The recipe below uses this approach.

Serves 6-10

1 kg (2.2 lbs) prawns
3 lemongrass bulbs
5 dried red chillies
5 fresh red chillies
1 tbsp shrimp paste (belacan)
200 ml (0.8 cup) oil
2 kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut), diced finely

Peel the prawns. Marinate the prawn meat with 1 teaspoon each of salt and sugar before dusting with the cornflour. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, you prepare the sambal. Soak the dried chillies in hot water for 10 minutes. Remove and blend along with the fresh chillies and sliced lemon grass. Toast the piece of belacan in a dry pan or wok over low fire for a minute. Set aside.

Remove the prawns from the fridge and rinse off the cornflour and shake off excess water.

Slice the bumbling fruit.

Heat up the 200 ml of oil in a wok. Fry the prawns in small batches till they are golden orange. Set aside.
Add the chilli paste to some of the leftover oil and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and sugar to taste.

Put the prawns in with the finely diced kaffir lime leaves and toss it in the wok for a minute. Add the belimbing slices and toss for another minute. .

This dish can be served at room temperature and enjoyed eaten with hands in the traditional Asian way.

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