JOIN! 12 Weeks for $1

Malaysian Tamarind Shrimp

4 Servings

50 minutes 20 minutes active

Made This Recipe? Write a Review.
Thank you for submitting your review! A member of our team is confirming the review meets our site's Community Guidelines. It will be posted on the site shortly.

Known as assam heh in Malaysia, this speedy stir-fry packs tons of umami, as well as salty, sour and fruity notes. Our version was inspired by one taught to us by Pearly Kee, proprietor of Penang Homecooking School and author of “A Nyonya Inheritance.” We favor peeled shrimp, but unpeeled work well, too, as the shells capture the sauce; they require just an extra minute or so in the pan. We replaced the kecap manis—a type of sweet soy sauce—with regular soy plus brown sugar to mimic its dark, caramel flavor. Look for tamarind sold as a dark, firm block packed in plastic; it might be labeled “wet” or “seedless,” but will require both hydrating and straining. Serve with coconut rice and spicy sambal.




Don’t pour the tamarind mixture directly onto the shrimp in the wok. Drizzle it down the sides of the pan. This quickly heats the mixture so it rapidly reduces to a thin, saucy glaze before the shrimp overcook.

50 minutes

20 minutes active


  • ¼

    cup tamarind pulp

  • ½

    cup boiling water


Pardon the interruption

You need to be a Milk Street Digital Member to see the full recipe


and get access to all of our recipes and articles online, as well as in print.

How we use your email.

Your email address is required to identify your subscription. We will use it for customer service as well as other communications from Milk Street. We will not share, or rent your email address.

Susan G.
October 3, 2023
Very flavorful, worth the time
Not sure if I'm just slow or have too much time on my hands, but this required more than 50 minutes to prepare and serve. But the recipe was definitely worth it! I happen to have everything needed on hand, including tamarind pulp and Fresno peppers from the garden. I made everything, including the coconut rice and red chili and shallot sambal, to accompany the shrimp. My husband and I both really enjoyed this recipe.