Prawn Sambal Bostador, a Eurasian recipe

Prawn Sambal Bostador, a Eurasian Recipe from Singapore and Malaysia

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x


Prawn Sambal Bostador is a delicious, somewhat spicy dish of prawns cooked in a chilli paste. This Eurasian recipe has its roots in Portuguese Malacca (Malaysia), and is very much Malay influenced in the spices used.



  • 500g (1.1lb) large prawns (shrimps), definitely not tiny ones
  • 1 large garlic, sliced width wise
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) coconut milk
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar (or any clear vinegar)
  • a small handful of fresh parsley or coriander (cilantro), chopped

Grind to a paste

  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 red Thai bird’s eye chillies (the small fiery ones)
  • 10 dried red chillies
  • 1 tsp dried shrimp
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste (belacan)
  • 3 candlenuts/macadamia nuts (or 2 cashew nuts)


Making the paste

  1. Put half a kettle on.
  2. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut the dried chillies up into 2-3 pieces, depending on length and soak in hot water for 15 minutes to soften.
  3. Soak the dried shrimp in hot water for 10 minutes to soften.
  4. While waiting, quarter the onion, peel and clean the prawns.
  5. Place all the paste ingredients in a chopper and blitz to a semi fine paste. Chances are, your dried chillies will still be a bit coarse, that’s ok. Set aside.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or deep frying pan on medium heat and fry the garlic slices for 1 minute until they’re just beginning to brown. Drain on a saucer lined with kitchen paper and set aside.
  7. Add the second tablespoon of oil to the wok/frying pan and turn the heat up to medium-high.
  8. Add the ground paste and turmeric to the oil and stir fry for about 2 minutes until you get a strong aroma off it.
  9. Add the prawns, coating them completely with the paste, for about 30 seconds,
  10. Now add the the coconut milk, water, salt and sugar, cook for another 3-5 minutes until the prawns are thoroughly cooked. The time it takes will depend on the size of your prawns/shrimps; the bigger they are, the longer they will take to cook.
  11. Stir in the vinegar, and immediately take it off the heat.
  12. Scatter the fried garlic slices and fresh herbs and serve immediately with Nasi Lemak or just a plate of steamed rice.

  • Category: Side dish
  • Cuisine: Singaporean and Malaysian Eurasian