Laksa paste you can make at home!


I am always experimenting with laksa pastes; last night I realised I yearned for this yummy spicy soup but I had run out of my Singapore paste (although the man in the farmer’s market makes a mean one, but I am also out of stock of that), so I trawled the internet and found this rather simpler – in ingredients terms – Malay laksa, and I had all the components in my store cupboard.

You can put what you want in  it – lightly poached fish, prawns, chicken etc, but it’s the paste I am really recommending to you. If you are vegan just leave out the prawns/chicken/egg and add more tofu. and The addition of nuts makes the sauce a bit thicker but perfect for a winter night. I omitted the fried shallots (you can actually buy them in a Thai supermarket), but a fiddle to make on top of everything else. I’m afraid I used frozen fresh prawns (no tail) and Ross took a terrible photo. But it was delish!

Serves 4

  • 60 ml (¼ cup) coconut oil
  • 1.5 litre chicken stock or water
  • 2½ tsp  palm sugar
  • 450 g chicken thigh fillets, thickly sliced (optional)
  • 12 large raw king prawns, shelled, intestinal tract removed, tails left intact
  • 400 ml (1 tin) coconut milk
  • 150 g tofu, thickly sliced
  • 200 g (2½ cups) beansprouts
  • handful cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • half a cucumber, diced
  • 2 large spring onions finely chopped
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, halved
  • 500 g thin rice noodles
  • fried small shallots (optional), Vietnamese  or plain mint leaves, Thai basil and coriander, chilli sambal and lime wedges, to serve

Laksa paste

  • small dried red chillies
  • 2 tbsp dried shrimp
  • red Asian shallots , chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped galangal or galangal paste
  • garlic cloves, chopped
  • large lemongrass stalks, trimmed, chopped
  • candlenuts  or peanuts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp belachan (dried shrimp paste) – optional, i didn’t have any!
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp fresh or  ground turmeric

To make laksa paste, place chillies and shrimp in two separate bowls and cover both with enough boiling water to cover. Leave for 20 minutes or until softened. Drain well, then process with remaining ingredients in a food processor to a smooth paste.

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add laksa paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add stock and sugar. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Add chicken, return to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes. Add prawns and cook for 1 minute or until chicken is cooked through and prawns are almost cooked.

Add coconut milk and stir gently to combine, then bring almost to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes or until prawns are just cooked.

Soak or cook noodles as instructed.

Finally place noodles, beansprouts, tofu, cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions in piles, topped by half a  egg,  in four separate large bowls.  Divide laksa  and prawn mixture among bowls. Scatter over fried shallots and herbs. Spoon over chilli sambal, if desired, and serve immediately with lime wedges.



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