First Published: 28th May 2013, updated May 2020.
Udang Masak Lemak Nenas is an old favourite family recipe. But before we go any further, let me just translate that for you. In Malay:
Udang = Prawns (Shrimps)
Masak = To Cook or Cooked
Lemak = Cream but in culinary terms, this refers to Coconut Milk
Nenas = Pineapple
Udang Masak Lemak Recipe
So, this Udang Masak Lemak Nenas, is a light curry of prawns and pineapple in coconut milk. When you come across a dish in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and to some extent, Indonesia, with the word lemak, it generally means that there’s coconut milk involved.
What is the origin of today’s curry? It’s a Nyonya curry. The Nyonyas are a unique culture found in Singapore and Malaysia that combines the best of Chinese and Malay. You can read more about them on the Singapore and Malaysian Recipes page.
There are in fact two variations of this dish, one with coconut milk and one without. I much prefer the coconut milk version but choose to use only a little coconut milk, half of the usual big can, resulting in a lighter curry, the way my granny used to make it. If you fancy it creamier, you can always add the rest of the coconut milk in.
The larger the prawns, the better, for this dish I think. To peel or not to peel? One’s easier on the eye, the other, easier to eat! You could compromise by leaving the tail ends, that’s what I usually do with prawns. Keeping the shells on adds depth to your curry as it is what we use to make prawn or seafood stock.
Herbs to Use
What herbs to use in this Prawn Curry? If you have access to them, Kaffir lime leaves, Vietnamese Coriander/Mint or even Thai Sweet Basil would be wonderful. But if you don’t, then the good old coriander leaves (cilantro) will do perfectly, added right as a garnish before serving.
Plain rice is the perfect accompaniment to this but you could also turn it into a bowl of curry noodles by tossing in some noodles right at the end. Or blanch your noodles, place them in a bowl, and ladle the curry all over.
Vegetarians – tofu would be so great in this, as will green beans, courgettes, okra, aubergines (eggplants) and boiled eggs. My granny would always toss boiled eggs to leftover curry the next day, to make it go further.
Chicken and other seafood would be amazing in this curry too.
A Few Specialist Ingredients
There are a few specialist ingredients in this recipe, if you can’t get them, leave them and you will still get a delicious curry:
Shrimp Paste – shrimp paste is made from fermented ground shrimp, sun dried and either sold as a soft paste. Click to read more.
Galangal – a rhizome that has a citrus like aroma, but unlike ginger, it is sweet, not spicy. Click to read more.
Lemongrass – an edible grass, lemongrass is a herb used very widely in Asian cuisine. Click to read more.
Incidentally, the paste ingredients would make a great marinade for anything.
More Singaporean and Malaysian Recipes
Head on over to the Singaporean and Malaysian page for more recipes like the following:
Udang Masak Lemak Nenas
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat and sauté the ground ingredients until fragrant, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add prawns and coat thoroughly, then add the pineapples and do the same.
- Add the coconut milk and bring to a gentle boil on low heat (coconut milk will curdle over high heat).
- Add the tamarind, lime juice, salt and sugar and cook for 5 minutes until prawns are done.
- If you’d like more gravy, add some water (about 125ml/half a cup) or the equivalent amount of coconut milk for a slightly creamier curry.
- Add the leaves that you’re using a minute or so before the end of cooking time, turn off heat and serve with plain boiled rice. If using coriander leaves, chop and scatter after turning the heat off.