Citizens, we close out “the week of seafood” with a requested recipe from Citizen Erin, who has successfully petitioned TFD for his covered secret recipe! Never let it be said that TFD Nation ever wants for anything from its beloved Generalissimo!
Laksa is a popular and delicious spicy noodle soup in Peranakan cuisine (which is a combination of Chinese and Malaysian food styles) and is considered a Malay national dish. Other nearby countries also serve Laksa, such as Singapore and Laos, but Malaysian Laksa is the original version.
Laksa consists of rice noodles or rice vermicelli served with chicken, prawns or fish and served in a rich and spicy curried coconut soup.
The origin of the name laksa is unclear. One theory traces it back to Urdu/Persian lakhshah, referring to a type of vermicelli, which in turn may be derived from the Sanskrit lakshas (ایک لاکھ) meaning “one hundred thousand” (lakh). It has also been suggested that “laksa” may derive from the Chinese word 辣沙, meaning “spicy sand” due to the ground dried prawns which gives a sandy or gritty texture to the sauce.
My version of Laksa is exceptional and uses traditional seasonings plus a few unique TFD touches, including the use of coconut water in the preparation of the stock base. I’ve also added in additional spices to my unique rempah blend, which includes some from Indian curry and a few from the rare Sarawak-style rempah.
It is highly doubtful you’ll find a better laksa outside of Malaysia, Citizens – I hope you’ll give this your focused and thoughtful attention. 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
Ingredients for Rempah/Spice Paste:
4 inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped into pieces (preferred) or use 1 tbsp turmeric powder
4 inch piece of galangal, peeled and chopped into pieces (ginger is a barely adequate substitute but works)
15 dried red chiles de arbol, broken in ½, seeds removed and soaked in water for 30 minutes to soften
6 red jalapeños or Fresno peppers, de-seeded
10 macadamia nuts
8 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons Chinese-style shrimp paste
2 stalks of lemongrass, tender white part only, chopped into very thin rings
1 tbsp ground coriander seed
1 ½ tbsp ground cumin seed
2 tsp black peppercorns, ground to a powder
½ nutmeg, micro-planed
2 “points” from a star anise, ground to a powder
2 cloves, ground to a powder
5 cardamom seeds, ground to a powder
50 gm of dried prawn, soaked in water for 10 minutes and then ground fine.
3 kaffir line leaves, scored
10 Curry leaves (optional)
1 L water
1 L unsweetened coconut water
500 g raw prawns with heads, peeled and deveined, but reserve the prawn heads
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, butterflied
125 ml (1/2 cup) vegetable oil
400 ml coconut cream (not the sweetened kind used in drinks – if unavailable, use coconut milk)
450 g fresh hokkien egg noodles
200 g dried rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes then drained
200 g bean sprouts (blanched in hot water for 1 minute, then transfer to iced water)
1 cucumber (peeled, remove seeds in center, then julienne)
2 ozs. Daun kesom (polygomun, Vietnamese Mint or ram-ram), which needs to be cut into hair-like slivers – this is an essential ingredient in Malaysian Laksa. In a pinch, use regular mint leaves but try and find the original
3 hard boiled duck eggs (preferred) or chicken eggs
ground red chili (Separately, grind chili and add salt to taste. Place in a bowl for people to help themselves)
1 kaffir lime, cut into pieces (preferred) or use standard lime wedges
1. Pour water and coconut 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.
2. Meanwhile, put all the laksa paste ingredients in a food processor and blend to a fine paste.
3. 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.
4. 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 Kaffir leaves, then lower the heat and let the soup simmer until you are ready to serve.
5. Half fill another large pot with water and bring to the boil. For each serving, 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 over the top.
Serve immediately with garnishes.