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Who can resist a heaping platter of spicy shrimp, hot out of the wok?

Think you can’t cook Malaysian food? Too complicated? Wouldn’t know where to start? Think again! This spicy, tangy, vibrant cuisine is well within reach if you have a copy of chef Christina Arokiasamy’s new cookbook. She served as Malaysia’s first official Food Ambassador to the U.S., so take her word for it. These Malaysian chili prawns are as addictive to crunch on as they are beautiful to look at. 

Just after sunset in Kuala Lumpur, the locals and tourists sit at curbside tables indulging in a large platter of chili prawns served right from the blazing wok. The scene is pleasantly noisy with shouted food orders, but no one seems to mind because this is one of Malaysia’s most popular dishes. It is filled with layers of flavor using ingredients from the cupboards of Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures. It’s best to use a wok for this recipe since the hot wok will create a marvelous caramelized crust on the surface of the prawns.

Chili prawns are traditionally served with Chinese-style steamed buns, but a French baguette is a fantastic substitute. In my home, we cannot resist dipping bread into the sauce, making a delicious mess. Instead of prawns, you could also use crabs in their shell, as they do in Singapore; whichever you choose, the key is the delightfully luscious creamy chili sauce.

Reprinted with permission from The Malaysian Kitchen