Spicy Tamarind Prawns

Sambal Udang


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

My Asian Kitchen

My Asian Kitchen

By Jennifer Joyce

Published 2018

  • About

Sambal is a pounded chilli paste that can also include garlic, ginger, tamarind, fish sauce and lemongrass. It has many variations, but Malay sambal oelek is one of the most versatile and easily sourced. It’s the lazy person’s dream for cooking as you can dollop it into stir-fries, dressings and dipping sauces. Mixed with tamarind and sweet soy, it creates a perfect hot, salty and sour sauce for any stir-fry.

Prep 15 minutes
Cook 10 minutes


  • 3 tbsp tamarind purée
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
  • 1 tbsp palm or soft brown sugar
  • 400 g 14 oz) large raw prawns
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, sliced in half moons
  • 10 small ripe cherry tomatoes

Sambal Paste

  • 2 tbsp sambal oelek chilli sauce
  • 1 large shallot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • steamed rice, julienned spring onions (scallions) and steamed vegetables, to serve


In a small bowl, mix the tamarind, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and 2 tablespoons water together until the sugar has dissolved, then set aside.

Use a sharp knife to slice down the back of each prawn and rinse out the vein.

To make the sambal paste, place the ingredients in a food processor or blender and purée until fine.

In a wok, heat the vegetable oil and cook the paste until darkened, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and stir-fry for about 2–3 minutes. Add the prawns and stir-fry until slightly pink, about 1 minute, and then add the tamarind sauce and tomatoes. Keep stir-frying until the sauce is thickened and sticky.

Serve the prawns with steamed rice, spring onions and a bowl of steamed vegetables.