Before Yulia came to work for us, we had another Indonesian domestic help called Zoe, before Zoe, there was Yati who was with us for 6 years. Yati was a very good cook and she made the best sambal prawns and eggs. I did not learn or note down the recipe because duh why bother when there was someone to cook for you. When Yati went back to Indonesia to start a family with her husband, she taught Zoe how to cook this dish. Hah, so I still did not need to learn.
My luck ran out when Zoe resigned this June. She was going home to get married. A day before she flew back to Lombok, Zoe cooked sambal prawns and eggs for the family one last time. Instead of pinching food from the pan, I was busy scribbling down the recipe and method. Ok, I was doing both but I swear I was eating in the interest of learning how the dish taste at every stage.
Yati's Sambal Prawns And Eggs
400g small gray prawns (shrimp), feelers and feet trimmed
30 quail eggs or 5 chicken eggs
6 ripe tomatoes, quartered
16 red chillies, seeds removed
6 bird's eye chillies (cili padi), adjust the quantity if unable to take spicy food
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
10 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 thumb size shrimp paste (belacan), pulverized
2- 3 tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
Hard boil and shell quail eggs.
Using a food processor, blend the shallots and garlic. Set aside.
Blend the tomatoes, chillies and bird's eye chillies into a paste.
Heat oil in a wok or a big heavy skillet over a high flame,add shrimp paste and stir fry quickly until fragrant, add shallots and garlic, stir fry for another minute. Add the tomatoes and chillies paste, sugar and salt. Once the gravy starts to bubble, lower the flame to medium and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir constantly to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. The liquid should be very much reduced.
While the sambal is simmering, use another pan to deep fry the prawns till the shell is crisp.
Using a toothpick, lightly prick each quail egg at several places to make steam holes. Deep fry the eggs till the skin is crisp.
Add the prawns and eggs to the sambal and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
Serve with jasmine rice or noodles, even pasta
This is a versatile sambal that can be used to cook seafood like fish or squid (sotong). On its own, it makes a delicious condiment. As the dish does not contain coconut, it can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days but in my family, it is usually all gone by the second day.