Celebrity chef and Malaysia Kitchen Australia ambassador Poh Ling Yeow says if you want to know what Malaysian food is all about, you need to try this recipe. This fragrant curry works just as well as fish – serve with rice or egg noodles.

Poh says: This recipe brilliantly showcases the use of a classic rempah or Malaysian spice and aromatic paste, and through it you will gain a great appreciation of how to build a foundation for a wonderfully fragrant curry. If you’ve ever found the idea of using any of these exotic ingredients, intimidating, this recipe will allay your fears. Also, if you water the gravy down a little and eat it with rice or egg noodles, it makes for a delicious alternative to a laksa.

Ingredients – serves 5-6

1kg prawns de-shelled and cleaned OR 650g of a firm fleshed fish

500g pineapple, cut into small triangles

500ml water

3 pieces dried tamarind

5 kaffir lime leaves

350ml coconut milk

2-3 tsp salt

3 Tbs caster sugar

2 Tbs lime juice for balancing

Rempah (wet spice paste)

15-20 dried long red chillies, deseeded, soaked in boiling water until soft, drained and chopped

2 1/2 tsp belacan

3 cm fresh galangal, peeled, sliced finely

4 stalks lemongrass (white part only), sliced finely

300g red eschallots OR Spanish onion, peeled and sliced

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and halved

5 candlenuts or macadamia nuts

170ml vegetable oil


1. Blitz all rempah ingredients in a blender until you achieve a fine paste.

2. Heat rempah in a large, heavy based saucepan or wok on medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring continuously until caramelised and fragrant. At this point the rempah should have turned a darker red and the oil will begin to separate from the rest of mixture.

3. Add pineapple, water, tamarind, kaffir lime leaves and bring to boil, then reduce heat to simmer for another 10 minutes. Add coconut milk, salt and sugar and bring to boil, then add prawns/fish at very end to cook for 5-10 minutes or until cooked through. Taste just before serving. More salt, sugar or lime juice may be required to balance flavours at the end.

4. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and wedges of cucumber just in case your lips need cooling!

Curry? Laksa? Satay? What’s your favourite Malaysian dish?