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Nyonya Grilled Shrimp with Coconut Sauce
© Jim Franco

Nyonya Grilled Shrimp with Coconut Sauce

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To the Chinese immigrants who moved to Malaysia and Singapore in the nineteenth century, nyonya meant grandmother. Now it usually refers to a cooking style that combines common ingredients from Malaysia and China.


  1. 2 1/4 pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  2. 3 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  3. One 3/4-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, chopped
  4. 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  5. 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  6. 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  7. 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  8. 1 large jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  9. Vegetable oil
  10. Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. 6 medium shallots, chopped
  2. 6 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  3. 3 stalks fresh lemongrass, tender white inner bulb only, chopped
  4. 6 medium garlic cloves, chopped
  5. 4 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
  6. 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  7. 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  8. 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  9. 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  10. 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  11. 4 teaspoons light brown sugar
  12. 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  13. Salt
  1. Soak twelve 12-inch bamboo skewers in warm water for 30 minutes. Thread the shrimp 1/2 inch apart on pairs of parallel skewers and place in a shallow baking dish.
  2. In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, coriander, curry powder, cloves, jalapeño and 1/2 cup of oil and puree. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the marinade over the shrimp and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, turning once.
  3. In a food processor, combine the shallots, jalapeños, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, turmeric and pepper; pulse until minced. In a medium skillet, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the shallot mixture and cook over moderate heat until fragrant and light golden, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce and a pinch of salt and simmer for 4 minutes. If the sauce separates, return to the food processor and process until it comes together. Scrape into a bowl.
  4. Light a grill. Lightly oil the grate. Grill the shrimp over a medium-hot fire until just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to plates and serve with the sauce.


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