#recipe: Nyonya prawns with coconut curry

It was one of those “let’s get creative with whatever is in the fridge” days. I love Nyonya cooking and the Malay recipe “kuah masak lemak” which kind of is like a coconut curry. I wouldn’t really call it a curry but am not sure how else to describe it. The malay “kuah masak lemak” is so yummy and I found this Nyonya style recipe online:

Udang Masak Lemak Nenas (Pineapple Prawn Curry)

However, I did wander a bit from the recipe (since I did not have all the ingredients) and created my own version. The recipe is as follows:

  • About 8-10 prawns, washed with shells intact
  • 200 mL coconut milk
  • 2-3 bird’s eye chilli
  • A tomato, cut into 6 pieces
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass/serai (use the pale part about 4 inches from the base)
  • 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste/belacan
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • A bunch of pak choy/sawi, cut up into pieces
  • 1 tamarind piece
  • Half to a cup of water
  • Salt + sugar

For the sake of reference, this is what sawi/pak choy looks like:

images (11)

And this is what tamarind pieces look like:

download (1)

  1. Blend the lemongrass, shrimp paste, garlic, chilli and shallots to form a paste. (Or you could be “old-school/kampung” like me and beat the crap out of these ingredients using a pestle and mortar. Especially effective at relieving stress if you had a tough day)
  2. Heat up a pot with about 1/2 a cup of oil and saute the paste with the tamarind piece until fragrant.  Add the water and stir. If the curry is too thick, add a bit more water.
  3. After 2-3 minutes, add in the coconut milk and turmeric powder. Stir and let it simmer to a boil.
  4. Add in the prawns and the sawi. Once prawns are properly cooked, add in the tomatoes. Season with salt and sugar as per your liking. I added about a tsp of salt and 3 teaspoons of sugar.
  5. Stir and let simmer for about 3-5 minutes and then serve with white rice.

It would definitely have tasted nicer if pineapples were also put in, but it was still pretty tasty without the pineapples. If you have leftovers, you can keep them for about 3 days in the fridge (but this depends on the freshness of the coconut milk). When heating up, you can add in some more prawns and tomatoes and season again if you have a lot of leftover gravy.