Sambal Udang (Spicy Shrimp)

Updated on December 31, 2019
lizmalay profile image

Every year, I travel back to my beautiful home country of Malaysia to be with my family. I wish to share my experience with readers!

Delicious spicy shrimp
Delicious spicy shrimp

A Favorite Malaysian Dish: Sambal Udang

In the beginning, after I moved to the United States, I thought that I'd miss making my favorite Malaysian food. Some of the Malay dishes I love require ingredients that are not available at the regular grocery stores around here. Well, it turns out I just wasn't looking hard enough. Once I found an Asian market near my house, all of my worries are gone.

Last night, I cooked sambal udang for dinner. My husband loves shrimp, but I wanted to cook it differently this time. Usually, I like to grill the shrimp and serve it with simple Italian pasta. Sambal udang, however, is a very different way to prepare shrimp; it is famous for its spicy, sweet, and sour flavors. It is also very easy and quick to make.

The Secret Ingredient

To make this dish authentic, it needs a secret ingredient: the shrimp paste, better known as "belacan." Belacan is widely used in Malaysian and Southeast Asian cooking. It is made from crushed shrimp mixed with salt and then fermented for several weeks.

If you like spicy food, sambal udang is something that you must try. You can find all of the ingredients at any local Asian market.

Let's get cooking!


  • 1 pound shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 10 dried red chilies, soaked in warm water and drained
  • 3 shallots
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind juice (I used from a jar)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • Oil for frying (5 tablespoons)
  • Water (3/4 cup)


  1. Prepare the sambal paste: In a mortar, combine the dried chilies, onion, shallots, garlic, and shrimp paste. Pound until it makes a paste. Set aside. If you don't want to use mortar and pestle, I recommended using a blender. Just add some water to it.
  2. In the meantime, heat oil in a wok over medium heat.
  3. In a bowl, add the shrimp, turmeric powder, and a little bit of salt. Mix together.
  4. Fry the shrimp for about 4 minutes. Remove the shrimp from the wok and set aside.
  5. Using the same wok, fry the paste until it becomes fragrant. Add water and let it simmer.
  6. Add the tamarind juice, salt, and sugar. Taste. If it's a little too spicy, add more sugar.
  7. Add the cooked shrimp back to the wok. The sambal udang should be cooked when the paste has thickened.
  8. Serve with your favorite rice.

Photo Tutorial

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pound the shallots, onion, garlic, and shrimp paste. Combine into a uniform paste.Fry the paste in a wok. The sambal thickens as it cooks. The shrimp is cooked. Serve with your favorite rice.
Pound the shallots, onion, garlic, and shrimp paste. Combine into a uniform paste.
Pound the shallots, onion, garlic, and shrimp paste. Combine into a uniform paste.
Fry the paste in a wok.
Fry the paste in a wok.
The sambal thickens as it cooks.
The sambal thickens as it cooks.
The shrimp is cooked.
The shrimp is cooked.
Serve with your favorite rice.
Serve with your favorite rice.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Liza


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      • lizmalay profile imageAUTHOR


        19 months ago from USA

        Hey thanks, Louise!

      • Coffeequeeen profile image

        Louise Powles 

        19 months ago from Norfolk, England

        That looks lovely. I love the photo's.


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