Laksa

Back when I first shared this recipe I was really proud of trying something new that, for so many years, was completely off my taste radar. I had no idea that it would become such a popular and frequently made meal, possibly the go-to dish when we want something hearty and full of flavour.  Obviously this is not a midweek quickie of a meal, and the reward comes from making as much from scratch as you can, and of toasting your own spices. But there isn’t often as much time as we would all like, and after trying lots of different shortcuts I decided it was time to re-visit the original recipe, update it, and share some of what I’ve learned:

  • Chicken thigh cutlets on the bone over fillets every time.
  • You don’t actually need candle-nuts. For a while I was substituting macadamias but I don’t bother any more.
  • While I do prefer to roast and grind my own spices I don’t always have the time, so rest assured that regular spices are fine.
  • I’ve left out the tofu puffs on occasion, and unless you particularly love them they won’t be missed.
  • I will say once again that I really encourage you to make your own laksa paste at home. All it takes is a few minutes in a food processor, BUT I have used ready made from a jar, and the earth did not come to a shuddering halt.

what you need

For the laksa paste:
  • 7 dried red chillies, soaked in boiling water for ten minutes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, sliced
  • 5 cm piece ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp coriander roots and stems
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint
  • 2 to 3 tsp shrimp paste {the Thai variety rather than belacan}
  • 60 ml vegetable stock or water
For the rest of the soup:
  • 500g chicken thighs on the bone
  • 5cm piece of ginger
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed and unpeeled
  • 1 brown onion, unpeeled and cut in half
  • 1 litre water for stock
  • 250g green prawns, peeled (keep the heads for the stock)
  • rind of one lime
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 800ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar, grated
  •  juice of one lime
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • one packet of dried laksa noodles
  • tofu puffs, cut into quarters
  • bean sprouts
  • fresh coriander and mint, coarsely chopped
  • one fresh red chilli, sliced
  • dried shallots

what to do

1. Begin by making the laksa paste. If you are grinding your own cumin and coriander begin by toasting them in a hot pan until they become fragrant, then grind them in a pestle and mortar. Put all the ingredients for the paste in a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.

2. Pour the water into a large pot and season with a little salt and pepper, and add the chicken, onion, garlic, and ginger. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about twenty minutes. Remove the chicken, and when it has cooled slice or shred the meat into bite size pieces. To the cooking water add the prawn heads and lime rind. Simmer for about half an hour, then strain the liquid into a large jug or bowl. This will be the stock for the laksa.

3. In a large wok or pot, heat the vegetable oil over a medium high heat. Fry the laksa paste for five to ten minutes, until it has become very fragrant and has darkened in colour. Pour in the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about thirty minutes.

4. When you are almost ready to serve prepare the noodles according to packet directions. Return the chicken, prawns, and tofu puffs to the soup and simmer for another five minutes. Add some (not all) of the palm sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce to the laksa and taste for seasoning. You may not need all of the amount stated, or you may need a little more. Season to taste.

5. To serve, put some noodles in a deep soup bowl. Pour over the laksa, and finish with some bean sprouts, fresh coriander, mint, chilli, and dried shallots.

2 thoughts on “Laksa

  1. I haven’t actually made my own laksa before but I love it, so totally should! Thanks for your recipe, this will be a perfect way to start! Good on you for dry roasting your seeds… that is dedication! Thanks for joining us at our Fabulous Foodie Fridays party! xx

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    1. Even if you use ground spices to make your own paste the results are amazing. You should definitely give it a go. And thank YOU for the link up, I am loving finding not only recipes but such great food blogs. X.

      Like

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