Nonya Sayur Masak Lemak

This spicy and fragrant coconut-based Peranakan dish is easy to whip up and will have you and your guests asking for more.

Serves: 3 to 4


• 10 fresh prawns

• 1 tbsp cooking oil

• ½ cup dried prawns, soaked in hot water for 2 minutes and drained

• 1 cup coconut milk

• 200g kangkong

• 200g baby sweet potato leaves

For the rempah

• 5 red chillies, roughly chopped

• 10 dried red chillies, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained 

• 5 candlenuts

• 1 tsp belacan (dried shrimp paste)

• 15 shallots, peeled and roughly sliced

• thumb-size knob of ginger, sliced

• thumb-size knob of turmeric root, sliced

• thumb-size knob of galangal, sliced

• 4 stalks lemongrass, white parts only, sliced

• 1/3 cup cooking oil


1. Make the rempah by blitzing all the ingredients, except cooking oil, in a food processor to form a fine paste.

2. Place the oil in a wide frying pan over medium-high heat.

3. Fry the rempah till it darkens significantly and the oil starts to separate from the paste. This will take about 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pan from the heat and set aside.

4. Peel and de-vein the prawns, keeping their shells and heads. Fry the shells and heads with the oil in a deep pan over medium-high heat for about 7 minutes until very aromatic.

5. Add water to the pan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and allow the stock to simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and reserve the liquid.

6. Place dried shrimps in a food processor and blitz to make a floss. Transfer to the pan of rempah and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat for a minute, or until the dried prawn floss releases its fragrance.

7. Add coconut milk and prawn stock to the pan and bring to a boil.

8. Add kangkong, sweet potato leaves and prawns and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 8 minutes, until the prawns are cooked through, then taste and add salt if necessary. Transfer to a serving dish.

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