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Recipe: Prawn And Belimbing In Sambal

Make this spicy dish for your next party. It’ll be a crowd-pleaser.

All photos: Hedy Khoo/The New Paper

When I chanced upon belimbing asam at my neighbourhood market, I bought them without a second thought.

It is not widely available, and I usually have to go to Geylang Serai to buy it. I even bought a belimbing asam seedling recently in the hope of growing my own supply of this sour fruit.

I used it for sambal udang belimbing – prawn and belimbing cooked in sambal.

The spicy tangy gravy is appetising and goes well with rice.

The dish can be a crowd-pleaser if you are planning a festive get-together.


  • 350g prawns (with shells on)
  • 12 belimbing asam (150g)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp asam jawa (tamarind pulp)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 80ml cooking oil
  • 1 level tbsp sugar
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 65ml coconut cream
  • Fresh turmeric leaf 
(de-stemmed and sliced finely)

For spice paste

  • 9 red finger chillies (160g), 
sliced thickly
  • 3 chilli padi
  • 100ml water
  • 2 buah keras (candlenuts)
  • 20g galangal, chopped
  • 20g ginger, chopped
  • 15g fresh turmeric, chopped
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass 
(use 5cm of the 
white root part only), sliced
  • 20g garlic
  • 150g shallots
  • 2 tsp toasted belacan powder


1. Wash the prawns. Using a pair of scissors, cut along the back of each prawn to de-vein, leaving the head and remaining shell intact. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Wash the belimbing. Drain dry and place on a dish.

3. Sprinkle one teaspoon of salt over the belimbing. Leave for 10 minutes and rinse off the salt. Set aside.

4. Mix the tamarind pulp with two tablespoons of water. Leave it to soak for 10 minutes. Strain and set aside the tamarind juice.

5. To prepare the spice paste, place red finger chillies and chilli padi in blender, along with 50ml of water. Blend into smooth paste. Transfer chilli paste into a bowl.

6. Put the remaining water, candlenuts, galangal, ginger, fresh turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, shallots and toasted belacan powder into the blender. Blend into smooth paste and add this to the chilli paste. Mix well.

7. Heat the cooking oil over medium heat.

8. Once the oil is hot, add the spice paste and turn the heat down to low.

9. Fry the mixture for 12 minutes.

10. Add the tamarind juice. Fry for another three minutes. Add remaining salt and the tablespoon of sugar. Stir.

11. Add the belimbing and prawns.

12. Add the kaffir lime leaves and stir-fry.

13. Add the coconut cream and stir-fy.

14. Cook for five minutes until the prawns are cooked through.

15. Garnish with fresh turmeric leaf.

(Also Read: 5 Delicious Ways To Eat Your Dragon Fruit – Recipes Included)

A version of this story first appeared in The New Paper on November 30, 2017, with the headline ‘Hed Chef: Prawn and belimbing in sambal’.