Laksa lemak or curry laksa is a coconut-based curry noodle soup well loved by many Malaysians.

This dish is a perfect winter warmer but also great during summer when your tastebuds are dying for some fresh, spicy flavours – slurp up the steaming hot noodles with the coconut curry broth and know you haven’t fully enjoyed this dish if there aren’t any beads of perspiration on your forehead, although you can take the spice factor down a notch to suit your taste.

And keep some napkins handy to avoid splashes on your shirt!

The recipe has been created by Billy Law who is the Malaysia Kitchen Ambassador.  Billy loves Malaysian food because of its diversity.  He says it reflects the vibrant culture of Malaysia and the three main ethnic groups, Malays, Chinese and Indians, who live together in one country harmoniously. His favourite ingredients are red chillies, galangal, turmeric and lemongrass which he uses to make his own rempah (spice paste).

 

Ingredients:

Serves: 6

  • 2 L water
  • 500 g raw prawns, peeled and
  • Deveined, reserve the prawn heads
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, butterflied
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
  • 400 ml coconut cream
  • 200 g fried tofu puffs, halved
  • 2 stalks curry leaves
  • 450 g fresh hokkien egg noodles
  • 200 g dried rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes then drained
  • 200 g bean sprouts
  • Salt to taste

Laksa paste

  • 5 cm piece galangal, peeled and chopped
  • 5 cm piece turmeric, peeled and chopped (or 1 tablespoon ground powder)
  • 250 g French shallots, peeled
  • 10 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 20 dried red chillies, seeded then soaked in hot water for 30 minutes to soften (less if you don’t like it too hot)
  • 6 large fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 10 candlenuts
  • 50 g dried shrimp, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes then drained
  • 2 Tbs belacan (dried shrimp paste), toasted
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, chopped

 

Method:

Pour water into a large stockpot and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer, add the chicken and let it cook for 20 minutes. Reserve the stock, remove the chicken, set aside to cool, then shred the chicken into small pieces.

Meanwhile, put all the laksa paste ingredients in a food processor and blend to a fine paste.

Heat oil in a wok on medium heat, fry prawn heads for a minute, then add laksa paste and fry for a further 15 minutes. When it’s done, the paste should be dark brown and a layer of red oil will separate from the spices.

Tip everything in the wok into the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Pour in coconut cream, season with salt, add curry leaves and fried tofu puffs, then lower the heat and let the soup simmer until you are ready to serve.

Half fill another large pot with water and bring to the boil. For each serve, grab a small handful each of hokkien noodles and rice vermicelli, and a few prawns.

Put them into a wire mesh strainer or a sieve and dunk the noodles and prawns into the hot water for 1 minute. Drain and shake off any excess water, then transfer to a serving bowl.

Top the bowl of noodles with bean sprouts and chicken then ladle the hot laksa broth along with a few tofu puffs over the top.

Prep time: 30min Cook time: 30min