Portuguese Debal Prawns

Portuguese Debal Prawns

The Portuguese ruled Malacca from 1511 to 1641, and long after that, many local Malaccan Portuguese integrated into the Malaysian way of life while retaining their culinary culture.  I travel each year with a group of foodies to a small province called Portuguese Settlement just 30 minutes’ walk east from central Malacca town. One of my main highlights is enjoying the variety of seafood grilled under the open sky at the waterfront jetty restaurants. The restaurants here are mostly family run. The cooks wrap the prawns in aluminum foil with the hot sauce (“debal” comes from “devil,” to describe its devilishly hot flavor) and grill it over hot charcoal. I have toned the level of heat way down in this recipe. The result is a dish of buttery tasting prawns infused with the tangy chili sauce which is simply addictive. This might become your favorite prawn dish.

Serves 4

¼ cups peanut oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 green jalapeño, sliced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 -2 tablespoon sambal olek

1 pound large shrimps, peeled and deveined

2 tablespoons butter

  1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat for 40 seconds and add oil. When the surface shimmers slightly, add salt and green jalapeño and stir-fry for 30 seconds.
  1. Add the garlic, stir- fry for 1 minute or until the garlic appears golden. Add the sambal olek and shrimp and stir–fry until the oils separate on the surface and the shrimp is pink which means it is fully cooked, about 4 minutes.
  1. Add in the butter and mix well. Taste, add more salt if needed. Remove from heat and transfer to a serving platter and serve hot.

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