When I was still living with my family in Malaysia, sambal was my daily staple. I used to have it in my rice, noodle soup and even in my bread with butter. Ok, I realise it’s a tad overboard but in addition to my existing addiction i.e. shoe-a-holic, bag-a-holic, chocoholic, I’m also a sambal-a-holic!
Living in a regional area where asian groceries are scarce, sambal to me is like a drop of water in the desert – every drop counts! As I’m down to my bottom half bottle of sambal, I was trying to conserve it for a special occasion. In the meantime, I have been trying to emulate the taste and scent of sambal from ingredients which I can easily bought from the chain grocery stores, and hence my cheat version of sambal.
I suppose when it comes to cooking, when we don’t have the best of things, then it’s all about making the best of what we have, right?
Prawn & Asparagus with Spicy Sauce
Serves 3 people
400g raw prawns, shelled & deveined
2 bunches asparagus, cut lengthwise into 3 parts
3 shallots, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves (1 1/2 tsp garlic paste)
1cm thick ginger (1/4 tsp ginger paste)
3 kaffir leaves (lime leaves)
1 1/2 tsp crushed fresh chillies
1 tsp fish sauce
Juice from 1/2 lime
Brown sugar to taste
1. Blanched asparagus with a little salt. Set aside.
2. Pound together ginger & garlic with a little salt to form a paste. Skip this step if you used ginger & garlic paste from the jar.
3. Heat wok with 2 tbps of oil on medium flame.
4. Once the oil is heated, add shallots and saute until golden brown.
5. Add ginger, garlic paste and kaffir leaves and saute until aromatic.
6. Turn down the flame to low, stir in chilli paste, fish sauce into the wok mixture to combine. Cook on lowest possible flame for 1 minute or until the oil separates from the sauce. (Please be careful of the splattering oil as you add in the chilli paste & fish sauce).
7. Stir in prawns to coat with the mixture.
8. Once the prawns are cooked, toss in asparagus to combine. At the stage, taste the sauce. Since fish sauce is added, I don’t think salt is required. However, I add some brown sugar to mellow down the spiciness of the dish.
9. Before serving, squeeze some lime juice over the dish. Best served with rice.
Emily’s note: For those who are chilli-averse, replace chilli paste with tomato paste but add in some sliced mild chilli. This way you can have the chilli flavour without much of the burning sensation.