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Tamarind Prawn (Assam Prawn)

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

Tamarind prawn or assam prawn is a MalaysianNyonya 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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76 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Sze

    有时候我也会煮kari 或 rendang 来解乡愁。

  2. Christine

    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. ;)

  3. 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.

  4. Ce'nedra

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

  5. Jessica

    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.

  6. 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!!!

  7. 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. :)

  8. dorothy

    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…..

  9. 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

  10. bryan phan


  11. dEbRa

    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?

  12. MarlomK

    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!

  13. MaJ

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

  14. Tshwraraganang Diseko

    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.

  15. Hi Bee,

    I have been following your blog for the last three years and is so proud that someone far away from home is unrelentingly promoting Malaysian food.
    Assam prawn is my favorite, but I have not cooked it so far. Your recipe will be my guiding light to cooking this amazing dish.

    KP Kwan

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