Prawns in Tamarind Sauce (Assam Prawns)

My granny used to make this dish and I always licked the plate clean. Even sucked the tamarind sauce out of the prawn shells. Perfect with rice.

May be I had too much of it growing up, I don’t really dig assam prawns anymore. But it is still one of my favourite dishes to make for dinner because it needs almost zero preparation. Un-shelled prawns works best.


  • ~10 large prawns, shells intact or 12 – 15 medium un-shelled prawns
  • ~ 3/4 cups tamarind paste
  • ~ 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil


  1. In a bowl, mix tamarind paste, dark soy sauce and sugar.
  2. In a frying pan, heat cooking oil and pour in sauce mixture.
  3. Let it bubble gently until slightly darkened and reduced. Taste and add sugar or soy sauce to balance the acidity of the tamarind.
  4. Add in prawns, stirring until sauce becomes caramelised and reduced and prawns are fully cooked.
  5. Serve with hot rice.

The tamarind sauce is actually a clever way to camouflage the fishy smell of prawns that are no longer fresh. So next time, if you discover a batch of prawns in the back of the fridge/freezer which you totally forgot about, don’t throw them out, make assam prawns 😉


13 comments on “Prawns in Tamarind Sauce (Assam Prawns)

  1. Anonymous says:

    One of my favourite dishes too! ^-^

  2. Claire says:

    Mine too! You know, living in a studio unit really limits my cooking now especially if I’m going to be cooking something oily or really fragrant – because then my ENTIRE home will smell like it! *sigh*

    • Tien says:

      That’s very true. When I was living in a hostel with a small kitchenette, I literally smell like my food if I go “all out”! Do you have an oven? Its much better than the frying pan.

      • Claire says:

        I know. So it’s no more kangkung with prawn sambal for us. And yeah, we have an oven but you just can’t do stuff like these in it 😛

        • Tien says:

          Its okay, you can always go to stalls for a quick belacan or sambal fix in KL! Meanwhile you can grill or bake other stuff 😉

  3. Oh Tien, my mom makes this and we love it so much! You are right; this is perfect with rice.

    • Tien says:

      Hi Nadia! Oh I thought this is only what we make in Malaysia or Thailand. Its good to know that good food are appreciated globally 😉

  4. D... says:

    I am going to need more than ten shrimps my friend. Definitely more than ten. And now I’m hungry.

  5. suituapui says:

    Yummmmmm!!!! This looks like something to die for. I love assam prawns, both the dry one like yours or the soup version.

    P.S. Thanks for liking my post in my blog. Cheers!

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