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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Asam Prawns (Tamarind Prawns) 亚参虾 - Mom's Recipe #1

One of mom's specialties, this was quite a regular back at our home growing up. But there was a brief period when we didn't see so much of this; mom probably has got plenty more specialties developed and kept us so contented that we stopped craving for this. Right until a week or two ago, I suddenly found myself missing this dish terribly for some unknown reasons. The night after immediately witnessed me getting my mom's recipe for this tamarind prawn version of hers over the phone. I think it is a statement well made to say that this is a classic dish in which every household has a version of their own. Same name, minor differences, similar tastiness.

This is a dish simple enough to be made with prawns and tamarinds bring the two most important ingredients. Here in the States, the tamarind pulp can be found in a huge solid block, usually come seedless. I have tried using the liquid tamarind concentrate too in the past, but personally the latter always feels as if it is never quite on par with the other option I have. To have recreated this dish soon after really did bring me a real sense of satisfaction. Craving satisfied aside, tasting this after so so long really did stir some memories of mine; a moment of reminiscence it sure is.

Mom's tips:
  • This is best made with prawns of thinner skins. The idea with this tamarind prawns is that at the end of the preparation, every bit of these prawns should be all so flavorful, beautifully caramelized and crispy on the whole. So well created they are always had whole, leaving barely any remnants behind at the end of the meal. That will explain the need to have the thin skin variety in order to be pleasantly chewing them away. Over here, I think the white shrimps work best. Just be sure to get those with a considerably good size.
  • Leave the shells on. Trim the head especially off the horns and tentacles, and cut away the legs. You can choose to make a slit down the back to get it deveined. Or just leave it as it is, they are totally fine too. But if you somehow did not manage to get those of the thinner shells, having these slits will help in getting them better marinated over time. Plus your guests will come to appreciate the little assistance from you as they try to get rid of the shells later lol.
  • Leave the tamarind seeds and pulps all the way from marinating, cooking to serving. They maximize the seasoning and I think it simply looks good having those bits of tamarinds around when served later.

This was hubby's firt time having this tamarind prawns. For someone that does not particularly tolerate sourness that well, he surprisingly loved this! I guess this is the thing between tamarinds and seafood in general; they pair exceptionally well! Sour but not excessively so, it comes with a tad of sweetness coming from the caramelisation with a natural hint of fruitiness from the tamarinds itself.

Asam Prawns (Tamarind Prawns) 亚参虾
Serves 3-4
300g white shrimps
2 heaped tbsps tamarind pulp 
2 tbsps water
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsps cooking oil

1. Trim the shrimps as aforementioned. Rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside in a bowl.
2. Add the water to the tamarind pulp. Press the pulp with your fingers to extract the juice. 
3. Pour the whole tamarind juice together with its pulp and seeds (if any) into the bowl of shrimps. Add in the sugar and light soy sauce. Leave the shrimps to marinade for an hour or two in the refrigerator (the longer, the better!).
4. Let the shrimps come to room temperature slightly before cooking time. Heat about 3 tbsps of cooking oil in a large skillet. Put it on medium heat. Once well heated, add in the prawns one at a time preferably in a single layer. Leave undisturbed as they get cooked on that side, crisp up and caramelize over time. Flip them over to the other side and again let fry until they are all ready.
5. Transfer them to a sieve and let rest on plate lined with paper towel. That will take care of the excessive cooking oil.
6. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with a bowl of plain rice.


  1. Those Prawns looks wonderful and delicious! Good work and recipe too!

    1. Thanks for dropping by and for the compliment!

    2. You 're welcome! And i like your food blog, really nice. I will stay tuned for future posts.


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