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How to Cook Delicious Malaysian Prawn Rendang

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My husband and I love exploring new places. Currently, we reside in Utah. Someday, we would like to travel all across the United States.

Delicious prawn rendang can be paired with steamed white rice or flatbread

Delicious prawn rendang can be paired with steamed white rice or flatbread

Traditional Malaysian Dish

In Malaysian cuisine, rendang refers to a savory dish consisting of spices, desiccated coconut (kerisik), coconut milk, and a meat of your choice, such as beef, chicken, or prawns. Authentic rendang is always made from scratch using traditional ingredients.

What Is Kerisik?

One of the main components of rendang is kerisik (desiccated coconut). It adds a nutty flavor and makes the sauce thicker and creamier. To make kerisik, you need to grate fresh coconut, toast it in a pan until it is golden brown, and then pound it to make a thick, oily paste. When I make this dish at home, I make the kerisik ahead of time. I like to make it from scratch, as it produces a more authentic flavor. I use only my traditional kitchen tools, including my mortar and pestle.

Perfect for Lunch or Dinner

Served with steamed rice, prawn rendang makes the perfect lunch or dinner. If you have leftovers, save them in a container and store them in the fridge. I love leftover rendang, as the sauce will thicken over time. I hope you will try this recipe and enjoy it as much as we do!

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Vegetarian Options

If you are a vegetarian, you can substitute jackfruit, tempeh, or tofu for the meat. I've made rendang with tempeh, and it was absolutely yummy! Tempeh is a plant-based protein source that originated in Indonesia. It's made by fermenting cooked soybeans and then forming the mixture into a firm, dense cake.


  • 2 kilos medium-sized prawn, legs and feelers removed, deveined
  • 4 cups coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons desiccated coconut (kerisik)
  • 8 long dried red chiles, trimmed and sliced (and deseeded if you prefer less heat)
  • 6 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced, or 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 3 fresh lemongrass stalks, coarsely sliced
  • 3-4 fresh turmeric leaves, thinly sliced
  • salt and sugar to taste
  • 1 tamarind slice, or 1 tablespoon tamarind juice
  • Water for blending


  1. Prepare the spice paste: In a blender, combine the shallots, ginger, lemongrass, dried red chiles, garlic, turmeric, and water. Blend until they form a smooth paste. Set aside.
  2. Prepare the prawns: Use scissors to remove the legs and feelers. Wash the prawns and drain the excess water.
  3. Transfer the prawns to a wok or a pan. Stir in the prepared spice paste along with the kerisik, tamarind slice, and coconut milk. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a gentle simmer and continue to cook for 1 to 2 hours. (Stir every 10 minutes so the rendang doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.)
  4. After 1 hour, add sugar and salt. Check for taste. Add the thinly sliced turmeric leaves and stir to combine evenly.
  5. Stir rendang continuously until the sauce has thickened and turned deep brown (see photo). At this point, the rendang may be done, or you may wish to continue cooking for another 15-30 minutes until the sauce has thickened sufficiently.
  6. Transfer the rendang into a bowl or serving plate. Serve with steamed white rice or bread.

© 2021 Liza

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