Masterchef Inspired Recipe – Prawns with Coconut & Chilli Sambal


Hello, my name is Emily. I’m a sambalholic. I love my sambal to be very spicy and pungent. I like to have it on my rice, noodles and sometimes in my soups. If I don’t have it frequent enough, I feel there’s a void in my life. 

When Adam made the prawn scotched eggs with coconut, chilli sambal on Masterhef, my attention immediately drew to the sambal side of things. After all this is what a sambalholic does! :P  I was delighted by the fact the recipe uses accessible ingredients and thankfully, no toasting of shrimp paste (belacan). As I once said before, I don’t want to smoke my neighbours out of their houses. 

Despite no shrimp paste, the coconut sambal still has all the favourable elements that a good sambal should have – spicy, salty, sweet & pungent.


This is the fourth time I’ve made it this month, needless to say, I really adore this recipe. :)  The original recipe calls for palm sugar and kecap manis, which makes a darker looking sambal than mine.  I have substituted palm sugar with brown sugar and excluded kecap manis all together (somehow this is one ingredient that always slips my mind when it comes to this recipe).  Also, I love kaffir/lime leaves with prawns so naturally, I added them to give the dish a light citrusy aroma.




Prawns with Coconut & Chilli Sambal

(improvised from The Masterchef’s Prawn Scotch Eggs with a Coconut, Chilli Sambal)  


500g shelled on prawns, deshelled and deveined

1 brown onion

6 cloves of garlic, peeled

1/2 inch thick ginger, peeled

1 tsp crushed chilli / 1 fresh chilli

3/4 cup dessicated coconut

1 tbsp brown sugar (to taste)

2 tbsps fish sauce (to taste)

3 kaffir leaves/ lime leaves, thinly snipped


1. Using a food processor, blend onion, chilli, garlic & ginger into fine paste. Add a little oil to ease the blending (optional).

2. Heat the pan with 2 tbsps of oil, saute the onion paste with kaffir leave until lightly brown on medium to low heat.

3. Add  brown sugar and fish sauce  into the pan mixture and cook for 5 minutes.

4. Stir in dessicated coconut and  cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the sambal from the pan.

5. In the same pan, add a little oil and pan fry the prawns  in 3 batches (Note: This is entire up to you but I have lightly salt the prawns) . Alternatively, you can grill the prawns on the BBQ.

6. Once the prawns are cooked, gently toss the prawns and coconut sambal in the pan. Best serve with Thai jasmine rice and sliced cucumber. 

20 Responses to Masterchef Inspired Recipe – Prawns with Coconut & Chilli Sambal
  1. penny aka jeroxie
    August 19, 2010 | 11:15 am

    the kitchen must smell so good!

    • Emily
      August 20, 2010 | 12:37 am

      Hi Penny,

      Yes, I love how kaffir leaves can actually perfume my kitchen while sauteing them. I guess that’s probably part of the reason I’m making this sambal for the fourth time this month. :P

  2. chocolatesuze
    August 19, 2010 | 7:12 pm

    ooh nice idea adding the kaffir leaves! sounds so freaking delicious!

    • Emily
      August 20, 2010 | 12:39 am

      Hi Suze,

      Coming from a sambalholic, this is must-try recipe! :D

  3. Jennifer
    August 19, 2010 | 7:55 pm

    This looks delicious! What exactly is dessicated coconut? Is it just dried unsweetened coconut? I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before…

    • Emily
      August 20, 2010 | 12:36 am

      Hi Jennifer,

      I had a quick look on Google and it seems to be finely shredded dried unsweetened coconut, what you would used in making macaroons. Hope this helps. :)

      Thanks for your lovely comment.

  4. Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron
    August 19, 2010 | 8:30 pm

    What a great looking dish, Emily! Love kaffir leaves too! Those ingredients will make your house smell like heaven at least my heaven :)

    • Emily
      August 20, 2010 | 12:41 am

      Hi Tanantha,

      I love kaffir leaves. I used to have kaffir trees in my garden back in Malaysia and it was abundance.

      So every time I used kaffir leaves, it reminds me of my birth place. :)

  5. A Little Yumminess
    August 19, 2010 | 8:53 pm

    I LOVE LOVE the food you make….this seems so appetizing. Will be making this soon…! :)

    • Emily
      August 20, 2010 | 12:43 am

      Hi Simran,

      Thank you for loving the food I made. :) Oh yes, it was very appetizing and I just couldn’t have enough of it. Hopefully, I didn’t turn you into a sambalholic too! :P

  6. tigerfish
    August 20, 2010 | 1:07 am

    This is just too good! I can imagine myself licking off every crust bit on the prawns…oops..I am showing no courtesy here. Pardon me. In face of good food, I can’t help it. :)

  7. Damon
    August 20, 2010 | 10:22 pm

    Very nice dish! I only wish I hadn’t seen the pictures of the prawns :) I don’t like it when the heads are still attached

  8. Spoon and Chopsticks
    August 21, 2010 | 7:36 am

    Awesome. The prawns seem to jump out at me. Great job with the recipe and the photos.

  9. Sara
    August 22, 2010 | 4:16 am

    Wow Emily, this is a gorgeous dish! Now I feel my everyday pasta menu must seem so boring for my husband! I should start trying one of your recipes.

  10. solante
    July 2, 2011 | 3:16 pm

    Gonna try it tonight!!! Can’t wait. Tx for all the ideas! Any replacement I can use for Kaffir leaves?

    • Emily
      July 2, 2011 | 11:32 pm

      I haven’t tried to replace kaffir leaves before but I think you can add grated lime rind (although the scent is not exactly the same but still serves the “sprucing up” function). When you about to eat the prawns, you can squeeze some lime juice over.

      Hope this helps and happy cooking! :)

  11. christina
    August 11, 2011 | 5:32 pm

    heii..i going to make this tomorrow.. and i kinda a bit confuse with the dessicated coconut.. u wrote the portion 3/4, 3/4 of 1 coconut?can you tell me the portion in grams coz i’m using instant dessicated coconut.. thankkkkksssss.. :D

    • Emily
      August 12, 2011 | 2:41 am

      Hi Christina, I meant 3/4 cup of instant dessicated coconut. You have overestimated my ability to grate a fresh coconut, lol!
      Sorry about the error. Hope you’ll enjoy the recipe. :)

  12. Raelene
    May 8, 2012 | 11:46 am

    I cooked this dish tonight and was concerned about how strong the flavours were with the prawns but when mixed thru the rice delicious thank you

    • Emily
      May 8, 2012 | 12:07 pm

      Hi Raelene, thanks for trying out the recipe and took the time to write me a feedback. I really appreciate it and happy that you enjoyed the dish. :D

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