Sayur Lemak With Grilled Prawns

Recipe By Annette Tan, Food Writer and Founder of Fatfuku

Sayur lemak is a dish that is available on my private dining dinner menu and is well-received by guests. The prawns are usually served in the gravy with the vegetables. For a contemporary spin, the prawns are grilled with the rempah.


Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time 45 minutes

  • 12 tiger prawns
  • 2 packets round bayam
  • 150g dried prawns
  • ½ cup cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1.5 cups coconut milk
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf, finely sliced

For the Rempah:

  • 300g shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp belacan (preserved shrimp paste)
  • 10 red chillies, sliced
  • 50g galangal (blue ginger), peeled and sliced
  • 20g kunyit (turmeric root), peeled and sliced
  • 6 buah keras (candlenut)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, sliced

For the Prawns:

  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. Prepare the prawns by removing only the centre shell, leave the heads and tails intact. Make a slit in the de-shelled middle part of the prawns and remove the veins. Rinse and set aside.
  2. Cut the bayam into thirds and wash under running water. Drain and set aside.
  3. Soak dried prawns in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain and reserve the soaking liquid. Set aside.
  4. To make the rempah, place all the rempah ingredients in a blender and blitz to a fine paste.
  5. Remove the rempah and place in a wok or a large saucepan.
  6. Place the rehydrated dried prawns in the blender and blitz till they turn into a fine floss. Set aside.
  7. Add cooking oil and coriander powder to the rempah and fry over medium heat for about 30 mins. The rempah will absorb all the oil at first and release the oil when it is fully cooked.
  8. When the rempah is cooked, remove four tablespoons from the pan and set aside.
  9. Add the dried prawn floss to the rempah in the pan and stir-fry over medium heat for 2 minutes.
  10. Add ½ cup of the dried prawn soaking liquid to the pan, along with the bayam.
  11. Stir and reduce heat to low. Add a cup of the coconut milk and stir, ensuring that the vegetables are coated. As the vegetables cook and wilt, add more coconut milk, according to your taste.
  12. Bring to a slow simmer and taste. Add salt, if necessary. Give it a stir and take off the heat.
  13. Meanwhile, rub 1 tablespoon of oil onto a foil lined tray and pre-heat your oven to 180°C.
  14. Sprinkle salt over the prawns and fill the split centre of each prawn with a little rempah.
  15. Drizzle a tablespoon of oil over the prawns and bake in the oven for 12 minutes.
  16. To serve, ladle the vegetables and gravy onto shallow bowls or deep plates and top with a few grilled prawns. Garnish with finely sliced lime leaves.