Asian · Condiment · Cooking with Herbs · Little Thumbs Up! · Made with Love Mondays · Malaysian · Nostalgia · Sarawakian · Savoury · Spicy · Vegetarian · Weekend Cooking

Homemade Fragrant Prawn Tomato Sambal – A Perfect Recipe!

As far as I could remember, my late Dad was king consumer of any form of sambals. He liked his sambal with lots of heat. One of his favourites was sambal tempoyak, made with fermented durian.  Sounds yucky, but it was downright scrumptious, if you are a durian fan, that is *wink*

My Mum had to fulfill my Dad’s sambalish desire every so often. That’s when my Mum invented all kinds of sambal to her heart’s content. There was not a time when our house was not perfumed with the pleasantly pungent and acrid smells of the sambals.  😀

Have Sambal Will Eat…

Like my Dad, I love eating sambal, but I don’t think I could xerox my Mum’s noteworthy feat of sambal making.  My limitation comes in the form of my highly critical half.  His long nose could smell a rotten egg distance away 😀

But I want to eat sambal! Personally, this hot and spicy condiment makes the meal whole.  Arghh!!

I know I could buy these in the Asian stores, but none of the bottled ones could beat my Mum’s sambals.

Perfect Sambal

It was in 2010 when Mum came to the rescue.  That year, she and my younger sister came to visit us during the Summer hols.  I am really thankful to mummy dearest for this perfect sambal recipe.

I’m sure my hubs would not even know I cooked sambal in my kitchen.  His only remark the day I made the sambal was, “I smelled smelly feet”.  It was a fleeting remark and he continued tapping on his iPad.  Ha ha ha!

I’ve bookmarked my Mum’s perfect sambal udang tomato (prawn tomato sambal) since then.

A fresh guesstimate recipe

As with all genuine and authentic homemade (savoury) cooking by any brilliant and creative cooks, guesstimates are a norm.

There are no exact measurements in this recipe. As my Mum would say, “agak-agak” (guesstimate)

However, it is key to have all ingredients fresh. To conciliate with mortals who detest any form of “fishy” smell, this recipe does not use “belacan” (shrimp paste), but dried shrimps which are milder and camouflaged by the rest of the fragrant herbs and spices.

1. Fragrant sambal_dried shrimps
Ingredients –
My Mum’s agak-agak recipe – the Perfect Sambal for an anti-belacan omnivore 😀 
  • Plenty of tomatoes (I used 16 Roma tomatoes) – blend separately
  • Dried shrimps (I used 1 packet – soaked, removed water and dry roasted) – blend separately

Blended paste –

  • Handful of fresh chillies (I used 10 green chillies with seeds) – dry roast
  • Plenty of shallots (I used 10)
  • Quite a lot of garlic (I used 1 knob!)
  • Onion (I used 1 medium-sized onion)
  • Handful of kaffir lime leaves (hard stems removed)
  • Coriander roots (I used 8)
  • Fresh turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Galangal
  • Lemon Grass (I used 2 stalks)

The rest –

  • Cooking Oil
  • Lemon zest
  • Lemon juice
  • Tamarind juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Gula apong (I used palm sugar, to taste)
  • Chilli powder (I used 2 heap teaspoons – but this is optional – to taste)

Method – 

  • Sauté the blended paste in a heated wok with some cooking oil until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes and dried shrimps. Stir to combine and cook over medium-low heat
  • Add the seasoning to taste (salt, pepper, sugar, zest of 1 lemon and lemon juice)
  • The sambal will be ready when the tomato mixture becomes quite dry. This will take a good 4 to 5 hours.  I cooked my sambal for ca 4 hours!
  • Cool the cooked sambal and store in air tight jars


2. Fragrant sambal_air tight

And by the way, here’s how I eat my homemade sambal.  That’s right… on crackers and toasts.  Damn YUMMY!!

3. Fragrant sambal_crackers n toasts10. Fragrant sambal

A picture is worth a thousand words!

4. Fragrant sambal5. Fragrant sambal

6. Fragrant sambal7. Fragrant sambal

8. Fragrant sambal9. Fragrant sambal

It has been quite a while since I linked up to LTU.  Seeing that this post matched with the March theme of using prawns, I’m thinking, “why not?”.  So here’s to Little Thumbs up using the ingredient, “PRAWNS” organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and hosted by Food Playground


I came accross this blog,  Javelin Warrior’s Cookin w/ Luv  by chance via another blogger’s blog Ediblethings.  I’m a believer of using fresh ingredients, and, as much as possible, cooking from scratch.  So yes, why not?  Therefore, I’m linking this post for the first and defintely not the last time to  Made with Love Mondays: Week 31-07-2014 hosted by Javelin Warrior  


I don’t normally publish a post every week, since time is not always on my side, and if I had the time and inspiration to write something, I will  check out Beth Fish Reads‘  Weekend Cooking – Thinking, Reading, Photographing

Weekend Cooking

Because I used all forms of fresh herbs and spices in my cooking, I’m hooked to Lavender and Lovage‘s blog. Although the herb, Rosemary is the main theme for March, I hope Karen will forgive me with this post.  I’m linking this post to the  March challenge for cooking with herbs


Enjoy the rest of the week!


10 thoughts on “Homemade Fragrant Prawn Tomato Sambal – A Perfect Recipe!

  1. Yum! Takes as much time as making rendang but so worth it, right? 😀 Happy “Almost” Spring! Hope you all are doing well.


  2. That’s right. It was a labour of love esp when we have to replicate Mum’s recipes😉. It was definitely worth it!

    Our Spring started in December as we hardly had any winter at all😄

    I hope your winter’s finally over and that you’re enjoying spring now …

    Take care!
    Hugs xxx

  3. Hi Nasifriet,
    Sambal without belacan!!! I would love love love to try this out.
    I am like you love to spread sambal on crackers and sometimes on cucumber and carrots, they taste great!

    Thanks for sharing this to LTU!

  4. Ha ha ha! Yes, sambal without belacan, but incredibly, the hay bee replicates the taste of the belacan but more subtle😄 I like it a lot actually.

    And yes of course on cucumbers as well. Ho Chiak!! 👍

  5. I’ve never tried sambal before, but the mix of ingredients definitely sounds spicy and fishy – and appealing to anyone who enjoys the combination. Thank you so much for sharing with Made with Love Mondays and welcome to the series!

  6. 😄 Not as spicy as I wanted. With 16 tomatoes I could use more chillies 😊. Fishy? Hmmm… Quite subtle. You’re right, this dish appeals to anyone who enjoys the combination, like me, for instance 😜This is a very common condiment in a SE Asian kitchen.

    You will definitely see more of me 😉

  7. I laughed reading your post because my grandma cooks with a lot of agak agak too and all strangely turn out to be very delicious… Your mum’s version contains more tomatoes than others and this addition makes the sambal more pasty and moist… Yum yum!!!

  8. 16 tomatoes and it took a long, long time, but it was worth the wait😄 .

    And it was indeed moist and surprisingly tasted as if there was belacan in there. All turned out well with the agak-agak measurements😜

  9. Thanks, Karen. Looking forward to the next challenge😉.

    Love your “facelifted” blog and the stylish new badge👍

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