Malaysian Laksa – Recipe

*Gasp* A savoury recipe on Tashcakes!

Not meaning to be shifty, but this week I'm working on a special dessert project that's not quite ready yet. Nearly ready- but not quite. In the meantime, I just had to break tradition post my recipe for Malaysian laksa.

It's also known as nyonya laksa, and curry laksa, and has lots of regional incarnations. The only common thing is it has noodes in a curry broth (often enriched with coconut milk but not always): the rest is up to personal taste.

Some of you already know I have a pretty unusual background: my mum is Malaysian Chinese. My dad is Jewish with a Polish-Russian mix. I'm a half-Chinese in a Kosher household. Tricky stuff! But because I'm a foodie at heart, I'm on a never-ending quest to create delicious Asian food that my whole family can enjoy. Including laksa, which is usually made with smushed-up shrimps and served with prawns.

This recipe is also good if you have a shellfish allergy, as long as you source the dried anchovies from a place that doesn't mix processing equipment. Instead of dried shrimps in the laksa spice paste, I use dried anchovies, which you can find at any Chinese supermarket. As for the cooked prawns as toppings- I just use other toppings instead. Laksa is, after all, whatever you want it to be once you have the base.

A little note: candle nuts are traditionally used in this recipe, which are also often found in quite cheaply Chinese supermarkets. You MUST cook these thoroughly: DO NOT eat them raw. They're poisonous, but although they (probably) won't kill you, you absolutely will suffer some pretty horrible, uh, digestive difficulties. Macadamia nuts make a great substitute, if you're worried or can't find them (I've used macadamia nuts here in fact, as my store didn't have candle nuts recently).

So. Here is my own recipe for laksa. Let's go!

Ingredients for Laksa Paste:

-1 red onion, peeled
-3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
-3cm cube of ginger, peeled
-3cm cube of galangal, peeled
-A few pieces of fresh turmeric, peeled (or 1tbsp ground turmeric)
-1 lemongrass stalk, topped, tailed and the outer layer removed
-8 macadamia nuts (or candle nuts- remember, do not eat raw!)
-4 large red chillies, deseeded
-4 dried chillies (leave the seeds in)
-1tbsp anchovy paste
-A handful of ikan bilis (dried anchovies)
-Juice from half a lime
-1tbsp sesame oil (for frying)

Ingredients for Laksa (serves 4):

-4tbsp laksa paste (about half of what you've made)
-200ml thick coconut milk
-400ml water
-1tbsp fish sauce
-3tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
-4 'nests' of egg noodles
-2 chicken breasts, cut into small strips
-1 packet of fish balls
-2 carrots and 1/3 daikon radish, julienned
-4 eggs
-Fresh coriander for garnishing


1) Whizz all the paste ingredients (minus the oil) together in a food processor or blender until smooth (you might want to chop your onion, lemon grass and roots up a tiny bit first if your food processor isn't very powerful).

2) Heat the oil in a pan and fry your freshly-created paste up on a medium heat for about five minutes until cooked, stirring constantly with a wooden spatula or spoon to keep it for burning.

3) Let cool, and spoon your paste into a container for later use (you won't need all of it for this recipe).

4) To make your laksa, place 4tbsp of your prepared laksa paste, the coconut milk, water, fish sauce, and sugar in a saucepan, stir to mix and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the chicken and fish balls. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the meat is cooked through.

5) While the broth and meat is cooking, soak the egg noodles (or just rinse, if using fresh) in boiling water until softened, and blanch the carrot and daikon strips in hot water (just place them in a bowl, pour boiling water over them and let sit for five minutes). Boil your eggs for 8 minutes until hard boiled.

6) When you're ready to serve, drain the noodles and vegetables. Divide the noodles up between four bowls and spoon the laksa broth over, along with the chicken and fish balls. Peel and halve the eggs, and place two egg halves in each bowl. Top with your julienned carrots and daikon radish, and finally tear up a little coriander to sprinkle on top.

That's it! Have fun mixing up your toppings, and enjoy.


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