Saturday, July 28, 2012

sambal udang (prawn sambal)

I'd like to say a really big thank you, to all who attended the official Mum's Not Cooking Book Launch at Kinokuniya, last week on Saturday 21 July. I was a bundle of nervous energy, full of anticipation, anxious that I might trip up, twist my ankle (damned stilletoes *grrr* damn you and your Amazonian stature Michelle *GRRR*) or kill someone with my fiery curry devil.

In the end though, it was all good, save one casualty, my favourite cuff bracelet. One of the glittery panels got knocked out by an enthusiastic handshake (thanks Jos, for babysitting my 'jewel' while I took to the mic).  Makes me wonder what the guy had for breakfast, that morning....

Speaking of enviably tall women, did you know that Mum's Not Cooking is now available on!  Yes, yes, I'm doing a little happy dance right now, because wherever in the world you may be, my fellow Singies, you no longer have to miss your chai tow kway, nasi lemak or sup kambing!! Anyway, back to the book launch... I got the chance to channel my oh-so-shy son Joseph, star of my slideshow on how to make Chocolate Chip Mug  Cake, talk about why I wrote Mum's Not Cooking, why it's such a great little book, and banter with the lovely, vivacious and very tall Michelle (Epigram's uber marketing assistant and sparkling event host).

iron chefs, NOT! but, from left, the quick thinking Josephine, gallant Fernando and very young and promising Gabrielle

As hoped, I met friends, readers, relatives, curious strangers and book fans, talked, talked, talked then talked some more, presided over an acar making contest, tasted the efforts of the contestants then made a hard decision on who produced the best rendition of my acar recipe (a nine year old budding chef who got the flavour spot on). Thank you Josephine the knife virgin and improv genius who ditched the blunt knife in favour of her nimble fingers, Fernando, present day incarnation of Sir Galahad who thought nothing of helping out a damsel in distress, even at the cost of winning, and Gabrielle, pickle prodigy and upcoming chef, for being such great sports and adding a ton of fun to the contest. 

After the excitement of the contest, samples of Mum's Not Cooking recipes - Cottage Pie, Devilled Sausages and Breakfast Banana Muffins were passed around the appreciative crowd, who made short work of them. The all too short hour ended with a book signing session.

photography by sri azlyana adi nazuar

It was such a pleasure chatting with the lovely people who waited patiently to get their copies signed, for spouses, sweethearts, siblings, friends, children, parents or themselves. Thank you each and everyone of you, for attending and spending the hour with me, and for your wonderful support of the event and Mum's Not Cooking! I hope you enjoy using the book as much as I relished writing it and that if you were before, you will no longer be a stranger to your stove ;)

photography by sofyani adi nazuar

With all that's been going on these last few weeks, you'd think I would hang up my pan and apron, and support my neighbourhood hawkers or fried chicken and burger joints, but what can I say except that cooking's in the marrow of my bones. It's been business as usual in my kitchen, but I've been scaling back on the number and complexity of dishes, stirring up simple but punchy grub like today's featured recipe, sambal udang (prawn sambal). 

I actually made a double batch of this and it served us quite well for a number of days, eaten with white rice or nasi lemak (coconut rice) and crunchy cucumber, between slices of crustless, buttered white bread and mopped up with chunks of crusty baguette. My youngest even made himself cup noodles crowned with a dollop of prawn sambal, which he slurped down lustily.

look at that gorgeous sambal! look at that greasy stove!!!! :P

I can even see this beautiful flaming sambal sitting prettily over laksa, or mee siam. It's straightforward, quick, knows what it likes (see best buddies above) and has no airs. In other words, short, sharp and sweet. Pretty much like this post, and its author too ;)

Before I end today's post with the recipe, I'd like to remind all of you about the Family Food Legacy Cooking Competition. The objective of the contest is very much in sync with my own personal food philosophy and concern about the growing chasm between our younger generation of Singaporeans and our traditional dishes, owing to unremitting exposure to other culinary cultures and the growing trend of eating out as opposed to cooking at home. The registration deadline has been extended to 5 August 2012, so I really hope you will take advantage of this extension to get your team together for the contest and participate. It's a worthwhile cause, and the prizes are really pretty impressive!

Sambal Udang (Prawn Sambal)

Prep 40 mins         Cook 15 mins        Serves 4

8 shallots, peeled
5 cloves garlic peeled
4 candlenuts (buah keras) toasted
20 dried chillies, seeded, soaked just long enough to soften and squeezed dry
600 g medium prawns, completely shelled (freeze shells for stock) and drained
1.5 cm square piece belacan (about 2 tsp crumbled belacan)
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp sugar

Combine shallots, garlic, candlenuts and dried chillies and pound or process to a paste that's neither too coarse nor to smooth. Set aside.

Heat about 1/2 cup oil and when really hot, fry the peeled and thoroughly drained prawns until they just change colour. Remove from oil and drain. Set aside. 

Pre-frying the prawns before adding them to the sambal prevents them from watering down the sambal with their prawny juices.

Remove most of the oil from the pan, leaving behind about 5 tablespoons and fry the belacan, breaking it up into the oil, until it no longer smells fishy and begins to crisp.

Add the chilli paste and fry, stirring often, until fragrant, colour deepens and oil separates from the paste.

Add the prawns along with juices (if any) and stir well over high heat for about 3-4 minutes or until thick and prawns are cooked through. 

Season to taste with salt and sugar. Stir well and turn off heat. Dish out and serve with plain rice, nasi lemak, lontong or mee siam.


  1. Congratulations! This is amazing! And the book is on Amazon - how cool is that! By the way, you look great, what extra pounds were you talking about ;-)?

    1. Thanks Elana :) Hahahaha! Notice my circus tent of a blouse? It's excellent camouflage, and you are very sweet. I think I'll write a weight loss cook book next ;)

    2. You can test those weight loss recipes on me :-)

  2. Congratulations again! So glad to hear the launch was a success. Sorry about your bracelet. Maybe hubby can fix it for you or get you a new one ;)

    That spicy looking sambal udang looks very tempting. If only I can reach into the screen and grab that bowl...

    1. Thanks Biren :) It went better than I expected, I'm glad to say. The bracelet is cute but good thing it wasn't expensive. Pretty sure hubs can fix it though one of the prongs has broken off - he's good with fix-its lol Hmmmm.....starting to miss the spicy stuff, already?! :D

  3. The prawns look wonderful, and love that sauce!

    You look amazing and I am so glad that the launch went so well, and even happier that the book is available on Amazon now :)I can't wait to see it!

    P.s. Did I ever tell you that I am 6', lol

    1. Thanks Alisha :) I like it too - so very addictive. I'm really hoping to somehow have the opportunity to cook for you, someday...

      And, don't you dare get a copy from Amazon!!!! I mean it!! You hang on there, because a copy is coming your way. You better believe I'm wagging a finger at you!

      *gulp* no, but now I know the food blogosphere is peopled with Amazonians lol

  4. congrats lovely to see pictures looks like lots of fun signing books :)
    shrimp looks wonderful

  5. CONGRATULATIONS, Den! I'm really happy for you. ((hugs)) Sounds like everything going well that day and quite a number of fans attending too. :o) Btw, you look super gorgeous with that lacy dress. Guess, your hubby's credit card can fix the bracelet like a brand new one. haha....
    Take care & best wishes

  6. Congratulations, Denise! I'm glad for you that the launch went well.

    The sambal udang looks so pretty. I could spread some on my cream crackers *chuckle*


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