Prawn Bostador, also known as green chilli sambal prawns, is a dish that few outside of the Eurasian community know. Eurasian food is one of the oldest forms of fusion cuisine in Asia, dating back to the 1500s. Peranakan food is another traditional fusion cuisine that has evolved locally. However, though Nonya cooking is very much in vogue in Singapore right now, few outside of the Eurasian community understand its cuisine.
While Peranakan cooking was an inter-marriage of Malay and Chinese cooking, Western culinary habits influenced Eurasian food culture distinctly. For one, the Eurasians have adopted the Europeans’ appreciation for roasts, afternoon tea and rich baked goods.
When you look at the list of ingredients of Eurasian Prawn Bostador, the Malay influence is immediately apparent. The dish requires frying a spice paste or rempah, thickened with coconut cream at the end to form a sauce. But consider how the Eurasian community enjoys this dish. Apart from eating it with rice like the Malays, Eurasians often have the prawns between slices of bread. These green chilli sambal sandwiches make frequent appearances during their high teas, alongside goodies such as sausage rolls or cakes.
The presence of coconut milk in Prawn Bostador makes the sauce more of a wet gravy, despite its name. Green chillies feature in this dish in liberal quantities, the way green beans would, reflecting the Eurasians’ penchant for spice. The chillies are meant to be eaten, but if you prefer, you can substitute them with sliced green capsicums. Either way, this is a superbly lemak (rich) dish that is quick to whip up – ideal for any day of the week.
120g red onions or shallots
1 teaspoon belacan, toasted in a dry pan
3 cloves garlic
5 tablespoon oil
1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised and cut into 2cm pieces
5 long green chillies, sliced thinly diagonally
300g prawns, shelled and deveined
60g coconut cream, mixed with 60g water
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
In a pan, combine the oil and lemongrass and heat until the lemongrass begins to sizzle.
Blend the onions, candlenuts, turmeric, belacan and garlic into a fine paste. Add the spice paste and fry on medium low for 5-10 minutes.
Add the green chillies and fry for another minute.
Add the prawns and toss to coat with the spice paste until they start turning opaque.
Pour the thinned out coconut cream into the saucepan, along with sugar and salt.
Stir through and cook just until the prawns are cooked, another minute or two. Serve with hot steamed rice or between slices of bread.