Tuesday, 30 January 2007

Luscious Laksa

What better way to start an Australian food blog than with a classic Malaysian noodle soup? The original bones of the recipe (quantities of paste, stock, coconut milk and seasonings) came from a recipe in the Sunday Age about 10 years ago. I'll admit that, when done from scratch, this recipe takes time. In fact, I myself have not made a Laksa since giving birth 15 months ago. However, I feel that this recipe's fabulousness warrants the honour of first recipe posted. Since the first time I made this version, I haven't been able to order Laksa in a restaurant, for the simple fact that nothing tastes as good. I am not kidding. It is a special occasion, major wow-factor production. It also looks divine in the dish. Thou shalt appreciate and revel in the wondrous Laksa.

If you can't be bothered making your own paste (it takes three hours even if you don't, so I would go for the packet stuff), there are a couple of very respectable brands available in the supermarket.


3 tablespoons Laksa paste
1 tablespoon chilli sambal (sambal oelik)
500 - 600ml coconut milk
1 litre of chicken stock
25 ml fresh lime juice
30 ml fish sauce
12 large green prawns
500g hokkien noodles
150g green beans (round), washed and cut in half lengthways
2 red birdseye chillies, finely chopped
12 fish balls
2 tablespoons coriander leaves
2 tbspns Vietnamese mint leaves
shallots (1 -2)
100g bean shoots
1 pack of fried bean curd

Preparing the ingredients:

Prawns & stock

1. Shell and devein the prawns. leaving the tails intact. Keep the heads and shells for stock. Refrigerate until required.
2. Bring about 1 litre of chicken stock to the boil.
3. Fry off the prawns head in a bit of oil, until they turn pink.
4. Put the heads into the stock, lower heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes whilst you prepare the other ingredients.

Vegies etc.

1. Wash and prepare beans, bean shoots and herbs.
2. Wash and finely chop the chillies.
3. Finely slice the shallots. Fry over low heat with a little oil until golden.
4. Simmer fish balls in a small pot of water for several minutes. Set aside.
5. Slice the beans curd and arrange evenly in bowls.
6. Finally, strain the fish heads from the stock and set aside. You will need to bring the stock to the simmer again later, so leave it in the pot.

Making the Soup:

1. Infuse the sambal, laksa paste and the coconut milk in a large pot or wok. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.
2. Add the simmering prawn stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for a further 8 minutes.
3. Add the beans and simmer for 5 minutes (or until cooked to your liking).
4. Add lime juice and fish sauce, taste and adjust if necessary. If it’s too tangy, add a tiny bit more fish sauce. If it tastes a bit bitter, add more lime juice.
5. Put the prawns in the soup and simmer for 2 minutes until prawns turn pink.
6. Add the noodles and fish balls. The noodles should soften and warm through.
7. Distribute prawns, beans, noodles and fish balls evenly in bowls. Pour about 2 ladlefuls of soup into each bowl.
8. Put a small handful of bean shoots over soup. Sprinkle on herbs, chilli and shallots.
9. Serve to an adoring audience.

Serves 4

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