Sambal Prawn – One of many Malaysian delights

Today we are going to look at preparing sambal prawn.

Sambal prawn is a popular dish in Malaysia. It is a combination; a sweet, sour and spicy dish. You can have sambal prawn as a standalone dish, or accompany with nasi lemak. I love chilled cucumber as an accompaniment.

What is sambal?

Sambal is a hot sauce or paste, and the basic ingredients for sambal are usually chillies, onions, shallot, balachan and sugar. Some recipes have lemongrass added to the paste, but I don’t normally do that.

Sambal is the base for many amazing Malaysian dishes, such as sambal prawns, sambal Ikan bills, sambal prawn and petai (stink bean), or sambal hair bee (sambal dried shrimp) etc.

We all love our sambal dishes; however, it takes time to prepare the raw ingredients, blend and stir fry (tumis). Many times, I gave up because either I am out of one of the ingredients, or could not be bothered preparing the raw ingredients.

So if you love your sambal dishes and time is not on your side, my recommendation is to use the readymade sambal paste, and then you can easily whip up your childhood favourite dishes  in under 15 minutes.

I am using the Little Nonya Sambal Ikan Bilis paste. So how to cook sambal prawns with this paste?

The ingredients for the Little Nonya sambal are chillies, tamarind, sugar, salt, lemongrass, balachan, onion.  So basically, this paste is ready to make your sambal prawns; all you need to do is stir fry the sambal paste until fragrant, add prawns and tamarind juice. It is that simple!

Even though this paste already contains tamarind, I would like the dish to have more liquid and a little bit more sourish in taste, so I add a “mild” tamarind juice to the paste.


2 Tbsp cooking oil
Half onion, sliced thinly
12 medium green prawns, shelled and deveined
4 Tbsp tamarind juice
1 cucumber – cut diagonally


Heat wok on high heat and add cooking oil.

Once oil is hot, lower heat to medium. Add onion and stir fry until transparent.

Add half packet of paste and stir fry for 10 -20 seconds or until fragrant.

Add prawns and stir fry for 5 minutes, or until prawns are cooked on medium heat.

Add tamarind juice to taste.

>> How to prepare tamarind juice? 

Cook’s Note:

  • If you prefer the dish to be a bit more sour, add more tamarind juice. Go according to your taste. Check out this video on how to prepare tamarind juice and freeze the remaining tamarind juice for next dish.
  • Freeze the unused portion of the paste.

Number of people: 4
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Preparation time: 5 – 10 minutes

Reconnect to your childhood dish in under 15 minutes with this amazing readymade sambal.

Other recipes:

Little Nyonya Sambal Ikan Bilis Paste


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