Asking around, I was told that they're a good addition to any curry, and especially in tarka for dhal. However, Sambal Prawns was suggested to me by Sunflower and it instantly appealed, especially since I hadn't made anything Malaysian before.
I've used a lot of Sunflower's recipes, long before I started this blog and they've never let me down. They're always easy to follow, and extremely tasty. I urge you to give them a go. I made a couple of changes to the recipe to suit what I had in the fridge.
10 raw prawns (I use frozen ones, defrosted)
2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 small onion, sliced
1 sprig of curry leaves, leaves taken off the stalk
3 tbsp tamarind paste, the thick kind from a jar
8 tbsp coconut milk
1 tbsp sugar
Rempah (spice paste)
3 Asian shallots (the purple kind), chopped finely
2 sticks of lemongrass, tender part only, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1" piece of galangal - this freezes well, so if you see any for sale buy a lot and slice it to freeze
2 red chillies, deseeded and sliced
4 dried chillis, soaked in boiling water
2 tsp shrimp paste
Using a mini chopper or a pestle and mortar, grind the rempah ingredients into a paste. Heat about 3tbsp of oil up in the wok. Fry the curry leaves until they sizzle, and then (after opening all your windows) add the rempah. Fry for 5 minutes, and then add the onion slices. Fry until softened, and add the tamarind paste, sugar and coconut milk. Add the tomatoes and once they're heated through, add the prawns and turn the heat up to high. Stir fry until the prawns have just turned pink, and take off the heat.
Cucumber slices are suggested as garnish but I didn't have any so I used raw red pepper. I imagine the cucumber would work better as the freshness and crunch would cut through the richness of the sambal.
For my first home-cooked attempt, it was astounding. I couldn't stop eating it; it was fragrant, spicy and rich, accompanied perfectly with just plain white rice. I ate the whole two portions and then had to lie down. This happens with alarming regularity.
I must try more Malaysian food at home; do you have a favourite recipe?