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Tamarind Prawns (Asam Prawns) by My Cooking Hut

Friday, 22 October 2010

Here is another guest post from one of my favourite food bloggers - Leemei, author of My Cooking Hut. Like me, she's Malaysian-Chinese living in the UK. Passionate about food, she is currently a freelance recipe contributor, food stylist and photographer. She is extremely talented and her photos never cease to amaze me. Do hop over to her blog to check out all her droolworthy pictures and recipes of Asian, Modern French and Franco-Asian dishes. For now, please welcome Leemei to Pig Pig's Corner as she shares the recipe of a true Malaysian-Nyonya delight - assam prawns with us!

asam prawns

I was thrilled when Ann from Pig Pig's Corner asked me to be her guest blogger. It has been quite a while that I follow Pig Pig's Corner, which I seriously don't remember when! Every time when I surf on her blog, her recipes make me drool. Also, the write-ups of great reviews of restaurants in the UK, which have provided great information and references!

Thank you very much, Ann, for giving me this great opportunity to appear as a guest on your blog! Ann and I are both Malaysians as you can tell from our blogs. I guess, when one lives miles away from home, apart from going to Malaysian restaurants to savour some delicious and spicy Malaysian food, the other way is to make it at home.

Nowadays, it's no longer difficult to get Asian ingredients in the UK. World has become smaller. Even supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury's do stock up enough basic Asian ingredients. One of them, which I least expected to be found at the supermarkets is Tamarind.

Tamarind (Asam Jawa in Malay) is a common ingredient in a Malaysian Kitchen. It is a fruit from tamarind tree, which usually is used as a sour agent in cooking. It has a shape of long bean which light brown skin, inside, it contains sticky pulp with many seeds.Tamarind is always used by mixing the pulp with water to get tamarind juice to give sourness in cooking.

Perhaps, same theory applies to tamarind that it goes well with fish and seafood. One of the popular dishes that is eaten in most Malaysian household has to be Asam prawns/Tamarind prawns. The use of tamarind in this dish give a subtle sourness which is totally different to lemon. It wasn't too overpowering but just enough to lift up the characteristic and a beautiful hint of tamarind. When you think of sourness, it may be quite natural to think of sweetness that goes with it, and a little bit of saltiness perhaps? These are the elements that are found in this dish, which makes it bursting with flavour even with the simplest cooking method of frying!

Well, Tamarind prawns is really a very simple dish can you need probably just about 15 minutes to cook. However, it needs to be marinated for 1 hour or so before cooking just to get all the beautiful flavours in the prawns. It is definitely a great idea for mid-week dinner when you don't have plenty of time to spend in the kitchen or you have your favourite TV program on that day which the marinate time fills in perfectly!

asam prawns_2
  • 500 g tiger prawns
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp dark soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 100 ml oil for frying
Spicy cucumber pickles:
  • 1/2 cucumber (thinly sliced lengthwise)
  • 1/2 birds' eye chili (thinly cut)
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tbsp sugar

  • To make spicy cucumber pickles: In a bowl, mix cucumber, chili, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Leave for 5 minutes, then, pour away the liquid. Set aside and keep slightly chilled.
  • Devein the prawns without shelling. Wash and drain.
  • In a bowl, mix tamarind paste, salt, dark soya sauce, sugar and water. Put in the prawns and make sure they are well coated with the marinate.
  • Heat oil in a wok or deep frying pan on a medium heat. Put in prawns and fry until the shells are pin and slightly charred.
  • Serve with spicy cucumber pickles.

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