Prawns with red chilli sambal


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia

Fire Islands

By Eleanor Ford

Published 2019

  • About

This speedy dish is packed with zesty, spicy South-East Asian flavours. It has definite heat from all those chillies, but not eye-wateringly so. Carefully remove the seeds and surrounding membrane so it is the taste rather than fire that hits you.


  • 10 small red Asian shallots, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 9 large red chillies, seeded
  • 3 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 3 lime leaves, deveined and finely shredded
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 360 g (13 oz) peeled raw prawns
  • juice of 1-2 limes


In a food processor or high-speed blender, blitz together the shallots, garlic, chillies and tomatoes to a rough paste.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When hot, scrape in the paste and add the lime leaves. Season with the sugar, salt and black pepper. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until it darkens a shade and has lost its rawness - the aroma should be sweet rather than harsh.

Loosen the sambal with a good splash of water, enough to help it form a thick sauce. Add the prawns and simmer for about 5 minutes or until the prawns lose their glassiness and are just cooked through and pink. Squeeze in the lime juice and taste to see if any of the flavours need balancing - sweet, salty and sour. Serve at once.