Once upon a time…

These are our Rajang hay bee/udang kering (dried prawns)…

Rajang hay bee

As you can see, they are straight, not like all the other udang kering from other parts of the country/world. The people have to painstakingly arrange the prawns in line one by one so the end product will be straight.

Once upon a time – yes, it does seem so very long ago, they were quite affordable and my mum would make the sambal quite often. Of course, she would make quite a lot at one go and store them in (Nescafe) bottles for us to eat slowly. When I was some place else, not at home, she would make and send to me a bottle or two whenever there was somebody to send it through. I guess she reckoned I could always eat it with rice…and with some cut cucumber, that would be a balanced meal by itself.

These days, these prawns are way over RM100 a kg so I do not make the sambal that often. Besides, they are harder – dunno if this is true but they tell me that now it is factory-made and machine-dried and maybe, they steam them too long so they are no longer as sweet and nice as those during our growing up years.

I did blog about making this sambal hay bee/udang kering a long time ago when I was still using my handphone camera and that was more or less what I did the other day when I felt like making some.

I pounded the ingredients…

Pounded ingredients

…and the dried prawns…

Hay bee, pounded

…after soaking in hot water to soften a little and to rinse them clean. I must say it was no easy task as they are a lot harder these days but using the blender is out of the question. My good friends’ mum, Auntie Mary, the dear ol’ lady, may she rest in peace, once told me she would not pound till too fine as she would prefer some little bits to give it some bite and to chew on when eating and enjoying.

The preparation of the ingredients may be quite tedious but the cooking is very easy. Just fry the pounded ingredients in quite a lot of oil (the pounded dried prawns will soak it all up later so make sure there is enough), throw in the serai (lemon grass)…


…and when nicely browned and fragrant, add the pounded dried prawns. Add some curry leaves and if you want, you can add sugar, salt and msg too.  Keep stirring till nice and crusty and golden brown before dishing it all out…

My sambal hay bee

We loved it so much, great with rice and we even had it on bread. Yes, you read it right, bread! As a matter of fact, I had not had it that way for so long that yesterday, I went out and bought a loaf and after applying a layer of butter on a slice, I added the sambal

Sambal hay bee on buttered bread

…and ate. Oh boy! That tasted so so so good! I had not had it this way for so long, maybe not since I was a kid or a teenager that I had forgotten completely how good that tasted, a whole lot nicer than with rice, take my word of it!

This should last for a couple of days and looking at how the prices of everything are going up and up and up, I guess I will be having this again not that soon in the near future. Sighhh!!!

Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

7 thoughts on “Once upon a time…”

  1. Interesting, I wonder what the benefit of having them straight is.

    Probably when they stretch it out like that, it does not shrink when steamed briefly (before drying) so they will look bigger. Prawns tend to shrink and curl up so you may have quite a lot and in the end, it will look like you only have a bit…or maybe this way, you can see how big each prawn is, premium size.

  2. I know these Rejang hay bee are mighty expensive. Is this the smoked type? Your hay bee sambal looks so great. Never try with bread but love it with plain rice.

    I think the added butter made it nicer than when eating it plain with rice – it was so good! Not sure if they smoked them but I know for sure they would be dried – sun-dried before, now machine- dried. There is the smoked one, with shell. I enjoy eating that too but these days, very small and after removing the shell, not much inside.

  3. Bought them before. Hubby like it fried and then add some lime juice and eat them like snack.

    You fry them whole just like that? Wouldn’t that make them even harder?

    I know people love to eat them just like that with their drinks, the way they eat those fried ikan bilis and peanuts at the pubs. The Indian Penang taxi driver who used to ferry my girl Penang-Sg Petani and Sg Petani-Penang would be one of them and we would always bring/send him a bottle every time. I’m not too comfortable with that – would want to rinse it first but then, it would not be so nice anymore.

  4. Oh yeah, they are straight alright, now you reminded me… I remember buying back some, so now it is so expensive! I bought some for my ex colleague to make the sambal for me, it was RM90 per kg.. I bought only 300gm… and she sealed up nicely for me to bring over… so nice that I have to jimat makan so that they can last till I go back … hahaha..

    Now it is like eating gold! Sobsss!!!

  5. Wah!! Your sambal hay bee looks so so good! I wanna make some. I think I have some regular hay bee in the fridge 🙂

    Regular hay bee is good too, those all curled up ones…but they’re not all that cheap, around RM50 a kg, I think.

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own. For food and other reviews, you may email me at sibutuapui@yahoo.com

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