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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nyonya Prawn Lemak with Pineapples - My speciality

               This post is dedicated to my good friend, Ilene, a very good cook herself.  Sorry for the slight delay Ilene as you know me when I post I go into specifics plus showing the steps in pictures!!! Being a nyonya by marriage, I have learnt how to make this lemak from my beloved mother-in-law, who is a fantastic cook then after more than 3 decades of marriage to an awesome man, I began to develop my own style. Before I proceed just a short word; my husband always like to eat sambal belacan with lemak curry; next post I teach you how to make same. I am not a professional cook.  I learnt from my numerous cooking lession with quite a few Chefs, a few important things:-

            a) First, if it is a curry or lemak for that matter, the rempah should alway correspond with the amount of meat & liquid.  It is no point having a sizable amount of rempah & putting a ton of water nor for that matter having a lot of rempah & not putting enough liquid.  For me, I always like to make the gravy quite thick;

             b) Second the liquid that is needed for any curry, soup, stew, should Never be more than the level of the meat unless of course when you are using cuts of meat that are not tender & need to be simmered slowly for many hours then of course you need heaps more of water & if you need to add in more water in order for the meat to cook, boil hot water & pour into the pot; that's what we have been taught;

             c) Prawns cook very fast so do not overcook the prawns otherwise it will be over cooked and a little hard;

             d) When you remove the seeds from either the dried chillies or fresh chillies, Do NOT remove the sac [sac is the sort of veins that the seeds are attached too].  The heat comes from the seeds & the sacs;

             e) I always like to pound the ingredients, even when I was working, except for the dried chillies which I blend as quite difficult to pound the dried chillies, as somehow or rather the lemak always taste much, much better. Another thing when you use dried chillies as opposed to Chilli Boh, it gives a better red color which is more appertising;

             f) Finally this is what my mother-in-law has taught me that we should Never over boil fresh Santan as then you will that the gravy would have alot of white, granny stuff & finally a lemak or curry always taste much better the next day as it would have then have time to infuse the flavour.


               20             medium size Prawns
                 2             handful of dried Chillies
                 3             Serai
                 1"            fresh Kunyit
                 3             pieces Lengkuas
               20             medium size Shallots
                 8             medium size Garlic
                 2             sprigs of Daun Kesom
                 3/4          Josephine Pineapple, remove centre core & cut into bit sizes
                 3             medium size Tomatoes
                 1 Tabsp   Sugar
                                Sufficient Salt
                                sufficient water
             200 ml         fresh Santan


  1. Make a slit across the prawns.  Remove the impurities.  Do not remove the skin.
  2. Clean the head & remove the impurites. Do not remove the head.
  3. Remove the *seeds from the dried chillies then wash & soak it with hot water for 30 minutes. Then blend the dried chillies.
  4. *Pound or blend the shallots, garlic, lengkuas, serai, kunyit.
  5. Fry the pounded/blended ingredients and the *Daun Kesom with sufficient oil till it is fragrant. [Just b4 throwing in the Daun Kesom; crush it in your palms in order for the hot oil to release its fragrance].
  6. Add in the pineapples & tomatoes & fry for a short while in the rempah; keep stirring as it burns easily.
  7. Add in water higher than the height of the tomatoes & pineapples & boil for 8 minutes in order for the tomatoes & pineapples to infuse in the rempah [as later you would be adding the prawns & if you add water just at the height of the tomatoes & pineapples when you add in the prawns, you would not have enough water]. 
  8. Add in the fresh Santan, Salt & Sugar & once you see that the Santan is going to boil; add in the prawns & once prawns have changed its color & is cooked; switch off the fire. Enjoy.

                                           Nyonya Prawn Lemak

                                   Diligently removing all the seeds :) 

                           After pounding the kunyit, lengkuas, shallots, garlic, you will find that it will ooze out some juice.  Do NOT discard this as it has tons of flavour; use it as part of the water to simmer the pineapples & tomatoes.

                                  Blended dried chillies.  As you can observe there is hardly any seeds!!! Work of the diligent lady.

                                    Frying the rempah

                                         Adding the tomatoes & pineapples & letting it simmer in the rempah for a while in order to infuse the flavours.

                              Adding the water

                           Adding the fresh Santan & once when it is almost boiled; add in the prawns & cook until the prawns change color & is cooked then switch off the fire, don't overcook the prawns!!!

                             Bye for now till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia 

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