Generally, laksa consists of rice noodles or rice vermicelli with chicken, prawn or fish, served in spicy soup; the soup is either based on rich and spicy curry coconut milk, or based on sour assam (tamarind or gelugur). This popular dish can be found in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even Thailand.
When you alter the rempah (spice paste), or the broth with different ingredients, the laksa will taste different. Even the noodles can make a significant difference. In Singapore, Laksa is usually termed as Curry Laksa or Katong Laksa. Whereas in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it is commonly known as Curry Mee.
Back when we were living in Malaysia and I was pregnant with my son, I used to crave Curry Mee, and every day a bowl of Curry Mee was a must. No wonder my son loves this noodle and spicy food a lot. Hahaha.
A good rempah is always the key to any good curry, and this Nyonya laksa is no exception. That is why I will always try to make my own rempah. As I have mentioned before I love cockles and so do some of my friends. As such, I have made some sambal cockles to go with this laksa too!!
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Serves 6 persons
1 to 1.2 kg fresh laksa noodles
100g dried prawn, soaked in water for 30 minutes
6 sprigs of Daun Kesom/laksa leaves, rinsed
For Rempah/Spice Paste
35 pieces of dried red chillies, soaked in water to soften, cut into small pieces
2 inches fresh turmeric/kunyit, peeled and cut into small pieces
2 inches of galangal, peeled and cut into small pieces
1 inch ginger, peeled and cut into small pieces
7 candlenuts (buah keras)
1½ cm belachan/terasi, toasted
400g shallots (red onion), peeled
100g garlic, peeled and crushed
7 stalks of lemongrass/serai, tender white part only, chopped
2 tablespoons coriander seeds, grounded
6 tablespoons cooking oil
Salt and sugar to taste
500g bean sprouts (blanched in hot water for exactly 1 minute, then transfer to iced water bowl)
4 to 5 prawns per person, cooked and shelled (Reserve 1 to 2 cups of water from pot for soup)
4 sprig Daun kesom/laksa leaves, julienned
3 fish cake, slice thinly/julienned
1 egg per person
For Coconut milk:
2kg fresh grated coconut
3 cups water
Preparation for the coconut milk:
- Squeeze the coconut without water for the thick coconut cream. Set aside.
- Add 3 cups of water into the squeezed coconut and squeeze again for the coconut milk. Set aside.
For cooking Rempah/Spice Paste:
- Pound/blend the dried prawns till fine. Set aside for frying later.
- Next pound/grind all the rempah ingredients.
- Heat up wok with oil in low fire and fry the rempah for about 30 minutes or till fragrant.
- Add the grounded dried prawns at this stage and keep frying.
- Add 1 to 2 cups of the prawn stock and continue cooking for a couple more minutes.
- As you are frying, add in half the quantity of the thick coconut cream slowly.
- Then add in the thin coconut milk slowly and stir. Bring it to a boil.
- Add in the sprigs of Daun Kesom/curry leaves and stir them into the soup.
- Let it simmer for 30 minutes. Add salt and/or sugar to taste.
- Finally add in the remaining coconut milk to thicken the soup. Do this on medium heat for a few minutes and then switch off fire. Do not cover the pot with lid.
Preparation for noodles and serving:
- Blanch noodles in boiling water and drain.
- Place some noodles into a bowl
- Blanch the beans sprouts and add some bean sprouts into each bowl of noodles.
- Blanch the fish cakes and add some into each bowl of noodles.
- Top with prawns and egg.
- Scoop the laksa soup over the prepared noodles.
- Sprinkle with some shredded Daun Kesom/laksa leaves and some sambal cockles (if using).
- Serve immediately with sambal (if using).
Note: I adapted this recipe from “The Wong List”