Tamarind Prawn (Assam Prawn)
April 22nd, 2009 74 Comments

Tamarind Prawn (Assam Prawn)

Tamarind Prawn (Assam Prawn)
Tamarind Prawn (Assam Prawn) pictures (6 of 6)

Tamarind prawn or assam prawn is a Malaysian-Nyonya recipe, one that I grew up eating as my late mother made a killer dish of assam prawn, or “assam heh/亚参虾” (in Hokkien dialect).

While most Nyonya recipes call for long list of ingredients and tedious preparations, tamarind prawn (assam prawn) is surprisingly easy to make and takes only a few ingredients: tamarind, sugar, and salt. Despite the easy recipe, tamarind prawns (assam prawns) are impossibly delicious as the tamarind gives the prawns the bold and tart flavors while accentuating the briny sweet taste of prawns…(get tamarind prawn or assam prawn recipe after the jump)

I highly recommend this tamarind prawn (assam prawn) recipe if you love prawns/shrimps and wish to venture into Nyonya cooking.  It will the best prawn dish you have yet to savor!

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74 comments... read them below or add one

  1. Sze says:

    有时候我也会煮kari 或 rendang 来解乡愁。

  2. Oh I love the tangy taste of tamarind so much! this post is very mouth watering! :)

  3. Christine says:

    I love this dish! May I ask, can I remove the pulp before I marinate the prawns? I can foresee my absent-minded self forgetting to take them out before frying them up!

    • Sure, you can remove them before marinating. I love to leave them in as the tamarind pulps will continue to release the “sourness” into the prawns, but since I marinated for only 15 minutes, it really doesn’t matter that much. ;)

  4. Manggy says:

    That IS quite easy, thanks! I love prawns– I hope it’s not too blasphemous to add a chili pepper :P

  5. babe_kl says:

    i always loved this esp licking and sucking off the coating first, my grand aunt used to make them for me when i go visit her. sad she have migrated overseas. with yr recipe, i hope i can recreate them.

  6. Ce'nedra says:

    Wow I’ve been looking for a recipe of tamarind prawns since forever! Thanks plenty for this -looks just divine :)

  7. lk says:

    I luv your assam prawns! Surprisingly I have not thought of using Tamarind in my cooking. Must go to get it now.

  8. I ate this a lot when grewing up too! It’s great and simple dish!

  9. Looks so so yummy delicious.

  10. During last chinese new year, a friend who came back from Singapore was looking for asam prawn. I think your recipe will be helpful to him.

  11. Thank you for the recipe. I’ll try it next weekend, perhaps on BBQ (I’we bought a new one) if it’s sunny!

  12. So simple and delicious! Can’t wait to try this.

  13. Jessica says:

    Oooo… I’d love to try this!

    Where do you get tamarind pulp? I’ve never used tamarind before in a dish…

    • You can get them at Asian stores…I love the “traditional” tamarind with seeds and pulps, nowadays, you can just get tamarind concentrate, but I like things the “authentic” ways.

  14. I knew I had that package of tamarind in my cupboard for some reason. I think this is it!

  15. I love assam prawns and I am drooling like hell when I look at the pic, could be the sourness of the taste that I imagine make me into this condition.
    One thing I found out that you can’t marinate the prawns for too long, it will make the prawns soggy and soft, wont taste good at all. 15 minutes is good timing for maritnating the assam.
    Thanks Rasa for such a good dish!!!

  16. tigerfish says:

    I made this before. Simple ingredients yet bold in flavors :D

  17. tummythoz says:

    This a superb ec to cook dish. Maximum yummilicious. I prefer to keep the head intact to soak up the marination.

  18. Mei says:

    Can I be so bold as to add a note? Please get SOUR tamarind for this recipe. When I made this for my mother-in-law last year, she loved it so much so I taught gave her the recipe (mine calls for a longer marination time – no soggy/soft prawns there – and to fry it with the pulp). She went out and bought SWEET tamarind instead! XD

    • Sweet tamarind?! This is the first time I heard of it. Yep, my mother would fry her assam prawn with the tamarind pulps but I discarded them before pan-frying because most of my readers are Americans, so I tried it to my tamarind prawns more “friendly” to them. I love eating the tamarind pulps too, after frying, they are awesome. :)

  19. Piggy says:

    yum yum! tamarind prawns taste great with nasi lemak!

  20. Jasmine says:

    Hi Bee,
    Do you have a recipe for turmeric prawns that you could share also?

  21. I have everything in my pantry to make this tomorrow! Beautiful photos, as always, Bee.

  22. Slurp slurp slurp, that shrimp looks so juicy and EDIBLE! Nice job w/ this. Will have to look for the tamarind pulp in my fair city!

  23. Another deeply flavorful Nyonya marine classic .

    Malaysians nowdays try their darnest to skip this high cholesterol exotika,
    such an ignorant shame

  24. this looks so good. i can’t believe there are so few ingredients too.

  25. dorothy says:

    thanks for yr “tamarind prawn” , it’s simple n my kids love it.
    they said “mummy yr prawn it’s tastly , can i finish up all ?”
    that’s my lovely kids…..

  26. Jason says:

    I came across your site today while looking for prawn inspiration, and just got through licking the last of the tamarind sauce off my fingers. So tasty! I’ve already got plans to try the beef rendang later this week. I was fortunate enough to visit Singapore recently and finally have authentic chili crab, black pepper crab… and the subtle heaven of hinan chicken. Really looking forward to powering my way through your recipe collection. The photography is fantastic too!

    • Thank you for dropping a comment, Jason. Even though I am sure the food you tried in Singapore is great, I also urge to hop over to Malaysia next time. Hope my recipies will continue to be finger licking good for you ;P

  27. Elaine says:

    Looks yummy!
    Where can I get tamarind pulp? I live in south Orange County, CA.

  28. bryan phan says:


  29. Wow! Love this! Thanks for sharing Assam Prawn, I love this dish!

  30. dEbRa says:

    hI! lOVED how the prawns was so nice not over cloying sour but just great! Im a tamarind fanatic myself loved tamarind water to eat with rice too! so comforting!! Just wanted to ask whether if substituting prawns with fish is alright? like frozen fillet fish?

  31. MarlomK says:

    Hi, I cooked 2 dishes from your site: the sweet and sour pork as well as this assam prawn dish. the sweet and sour pork was simply divine, i think it beats even the best chinese restaurants in Perth! However the assam prawns were much too sour, and i loovee assam prawns. Can you tell me where I might hv gone wrong?? Thank you!

  32. MaJ says:

    One question, with the shell my prawns where not sour at all, just the shell. How about taking off the shell BEFORE marinating?

  33. Tshwraraganang Diseko says:

    I always think of buying prawns but i didn’t have a clue how am i going to cook them.So but I just saw the TAMARIND recipe and it looks delicious. I am now inspired to go buy myself some and cook them myself.

  34. Pingback:Cold weather and Asam Prawn | My Happy Bellea

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  36. Helen says:

    Hi your recipes are easy and clear!! thanks!

  37. YB says:

    Can I use prawns with no skin?

  38. Cathrine says:

    Hi, I tried this recipe for friends and they loved it. It’s a keeper.

  39. Maria Elena says:

    when do you add the soya sauce?

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