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I spent a considerable number of years an Asian expatriate in the Western world, mostly as a student. Back when I was in boarding school in Australia, one of the things I missed the most were the steamy dishes from back home served in some spicy fragrant gravy. On Saturdays my friends and I would walk down to Chinatown and order a large bowl of laksa. However, the chef inside me pushed me to come up with my own version of the dish. Entertain your tastebuds with the following recipe!
- 1 kg chicken fillets, in large dices (slice after boiling) or 1 kg seafood, of your choice in large dices (shrimp, fishcakes, crabmeat, fish fillet etc) or 1 kg tofu, in large dices (OR all three!)
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
- 2 large red chilies, with seeds
- 2 small green chilies (also known as cabe rawit in Indonesia or chili padi in Malaysia)
- 1⁄2 stalk lemongrass, chopped
- 8 garlic, segments
- 8 shallots
- 1 inch gingerroot
- 1⁄2 inch fresh turmeric
- 1⁄2 inch fresh galangal root
- 2 candlenuts
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste
- 1 kg egg noodles or 1 kg rice vermicelli
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 1⁄2 liters chicken (from cooked meat) or 1 1⁄2 liters seafood stock (from cooked meat)
- 3 fresh basil leaves
- 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, flatten and tie into knots
GARNISH PER SERVING
- 1⁄4 cup bean sprouts
- 2 stalks fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 stalk spring onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon crispy onion (recipe available)
- sliced cucumber
- 1⁄2 hardboiled egg
- Boil chicken and/or seafood to make stock. If you're using tofu, then deep-fry tofu. Drain.
- Make laksa paste. Spices are best ground on the stone mortar and pestle to form laksa paste. It is best to start working from the coriander seeds and add one ingredient at a time once the spices form a smooth paste. Add dashes of salt to make the tougher ingredients (e.g. chili, lemongrass, garlic) easier to grind. If you don't have stone, you can also use the food processor. If possible, avoid adding water to the laksa paste.
- Heat enough oil in a saucepan to cover laksa paste. Stir-fry laksa paste, basil leaves, and knotted lemongrass till fragrant then add chicken/seafood/tofu.
- Add stock and slowly bring to boil over low heat.
- Add coconut milk, stir, and simmer.
- Boil noodles and drain. Add sesame oil and set aside.
- Serve immediately with noodles and garnish.