Prep 30 mins
Cook 25 mins
Laksa is a spicy, aromatic, soup, very popular in South-East Asia, and a meal in itself. It comprises a spicy laksa paste incorporated into a thick, rich coconut gravy, laced with spices and fresh herbs, to which is added seafood or chicken and is then served on a bed of fresh hot noodles. Although the preparation can appear daunting, if you gather all the ingredients and take it one step at a time, it is really very easy and a lot of fun. Here it is made with seafood. If you prefer chicken, omit seafood and add a pound of breast or thigh, sliced into thin strips, at step 9. Or, if you prefer, use tofu!
- 1⁄4 cup peanut oil
- 2 teaspoons palm sugar (or substitute brown sugar)
- 2 (14 ounce) cans coconut milk
- 3 cups fish stock or 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 -3 teaspoons asian fish sauce
- 10 ounces firm white fish fillets, bones and skin removed
- 20 medium uncooked shrimp
- 2 small squid, hoods (optional)
- 6 ounces fresh crabmeat, cooked
- 12 ounces hokkien noodles or 12 ounces fresh rice noodles
- 1 -2 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 bunch bok choy, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces.
- 20 mint leaves
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro stem
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- fried shallot (available in packets from Asian food stores)
- fresh red chile, sliced extra (optional)
- 2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste (belacan)
- 2 cloves garlic, sliced
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 3 -5 small fresh red chilies, coarsely chopped (and seeded, if desired, for less heat)
- 4 coriander roots, scraped and chopped
- 2 stalks lemongrass, white part only,coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 4 macadamia nuts or 4 candlenuts
- 6 sprigs vietnamese mint or 6 sprigs of fresh mint (optional)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon mild paprika
- 1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
- For laksa paste: place dried shrimp paste on a foil-lined baking tray and roast at 350 deg F (180C) for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly roasted.
- Blend or process all the paste ingredients, including the roasted dried shrimp paste, until a smooth paste forms.
- Cut fish fillets into 1¼" pieces.
- Peel and de-vein shrimp, leaving tails intact Cut cleaned squid down one side to open out flat, score inside surface in a criss-cross pattern and cut into strips.
- Heat peanut oil in a wok until almost smoking, add laksa paste and stir-fry over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly until the oil has been absorbed and the paste is fragrant.
- Add palm sugar, coconut milk and fish or chicken stock, bring to the boil and allow to simmer for a few minutes.
- Season to taste with fish sauce, and add a little more palm sugar, if necessary, to balance the flavors.
- When ready to serve, add the fish, shrimp and squid (or chicken if you prefer), and simmer uncovered for a few minutes until the seafood (or chicken) is just cooked through.
- Meanwhile, heat the noodles according to packet instructions, drain, and keep warm.
- Lastly, add the crabmeat to the laksa and heat through gently.
- Remove laksa from heat and add the lime juice to taste.
- Divide the hot noodles, bok choy and mint leaves between serving bowls.
- Ladle hot soup over the top.
- Serve soup topped with cilantro sprigs, bean sprouts, fried shallots, and extra chili if desired.