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2-10 whole, hot dried red chilies (2 will be very mild, 10 is hot )6 candlenuts or 8 cashews 7 medium shallots or 1 medium onion, peeled, coarsely chopped 1 teaspoon shrimp or anchovy paste 1 pound medium shrimp 8 tablespoons vegetable oil 2 tablespoons tamarind paste or 4 teaspoons lime or lemon juice 1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons sugar

Crumble chilies into a cup with nuts and 5 tablespoons water. Set aside 1 hour. After soaking, combine chilies, nuts, and liquid in a blender. Add shallots and shrimp paste. Blend until smooth, adding up to 3 tablespoons water if needed to make a smooth paste. Peel, devein, wash, and pat dry the shrimp. Heat oil in wok or large skillet over high heat and add blended mixture. Stir-fry 1 minute, then lower heat to medium. Continue to stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Turn heat up again; add shrimp and stir-fry 1 minute. Lower heat to medium and add tamarind (or lime juice), salt, and sugar. Stir-fry 3-5 minutes or until shrimp is cooked. Check seasonings and adjust to your taste. Try to find tamarind for this recipe: It gives the shrimp the intriguing hot-sour flavor of many Malaysian dishes. Tamarind is the beanlike fruit of a tall tree. The brown pods are often available in Southeast Asian and Indian markets. It is time-consuming, however, to work with the pods and easier to buy the small squares of tamarind that have been peeled, seeded, and wrapped. (Soak a lump of the tamarind pulp in hot water until it dissolves, about 3 hours or overnight. Strain.)

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