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Dried Prawns (Udang Kering)

Dried prawns (the Malay word for it is "udang kering") is easy to get anywhere in Malaysia. It used to be cheaper than fresh prawns since the seafood could be dried to have longer shelf-life. Nowadays, the price of this delicacy is such a dear.

The processes involved to make them are quite similar for making ikan bilis but there is of course an extra step involved if the prawns or shrimps were de-shelled during processing. This extra step also makes them more expensive.

dried prawns
Dried prawns (or dried shrimps - Udang kering)

They can be used as a base for soup, extra garnish in stir-fries, in sambal, also to be made into belachan. The quality of udang kering depends on the type of shrimps used and also their sizes. The bigger prawns make better dried udang kering.

Before cooking the prawns, we have to soak them in hot water for about 10 minutes to make them soft. Otherwise, even when cooked, the prawns would be hard to bite.

If you want to make sambal hei bee, the prawns need to be grounded finely using a food processor or pounded using traditional pestel and mortar. Hard dried prawns would not be able to be processed finely.

Here is a simple sambal udang kering that I make at home. I make it in large quantities simply because it is so handy to have in my fridge. Since it can keep for two weeks, I use it for my sandwiches and nasi lemak. Whenever I make noodle soup and need an extra oomph! to it, a good dollop of this sambal on my noodle soup would definitely spice it up nicely.

Sambal Hei Bee (Sambal udang kering)


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Tamarind pulp Tamarind juice Soaked dried chilies

Spices in processor Dried prawns in processor Finely processoed udang kering

  • 1/2 cup shelled udang kering - soaked in hot water to soften
  • 3 stalks of lemon grass - take only the first 1.5 inches from the base
  • 2 medium sized purple onions
  • 12 stalks of dried chilies - soaked in hot water then cut and deseeded.
  • 2 tbs of tamarind pulp - soaked in hot water to make the juice
  • 1 inch belachan
  • Salt and sugar
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil

Spices used Blended spices Belachan

Saute chili paste Oil separates from paste (pecah minyak) Add processed dried prawns


  • Peel onions and cut into pieces
  • Cut the lemongrass stalks, use the first 1.5 inches from the base
  • Prepare the dried chilies
  • Prepare tamarind paste
  • In a food processor process all items 1-3 until they are finely chopped (or use traditional pestel and mortar)
  • After soaking the dried prawns, process them finely like in method #5
  • Crumble belacan
  • Heat oil in a saucepan or a small wok
  • Saute processed spices until the oil separates from the spices
  • Add in finely processed udang kering
  • Add in crumbled belachan
  • Mix well
  • Pour in the tamarind juice
  • Add sugar and salt to taste
  • Simmer until the paste thicken

Add crumbled belacan Pour tamarind juice Add salt

Add sugar to taste Simmer until thicken

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