Laksa is a spicy noodle soup, which is native to peninsular Malaysia and Singapore. Its makes part of the Peranakan or Nonya cuisine. Peranakans or Baba Nonya as they were called in Malaysia, are descendants of the Chinese immigrants who came to this part of the world as merchants between the 15th to 17th centuries. Overtime they developed their own cuisine which is based on using Malay spices.
Peranakan cuisine is one of the most revered in South East Asia. There are two variants of this curry soup. The Singaporean laksa (the recipe that I am sharing) is a rich and spicy curry based on coconut milk, whereas in Malaysia it’s sour because the key ingredient in that is tamarind. Do try it, it’s a complete meal in itself. It makes for a good substitute for soup during wintry evenings.
For the laksa paste
- 6 long red chillies (or to taste)
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 shallot chopped
- 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, chopped
- 2 tsps. dried shrimp
- ½ tsp. shrimp paste
- ½ tsp. fish sauce
- 1 tsp. peanut oil/sunflower oil
- Salt, to taste
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 cm piece galangal or ginger, peeled and chopped
- Laksa paste
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 3 cups/ 400g thick rice vermicelli
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- 2 cups prawns, deshelled and deveined
- 1 cup deep fried bean curd, roughly chopped
- 2-3 hard-boiled eggs
- 1 cup fish cakes, roughly chopped
For the laksa paste
- Sautee cumin and turmeric over medium heat.
- Allow to cool
- Place all the above ingredients in a food processor until finely chopped.
- Add oil and process till smooth.
- Use immediately or its best to refrigerate for 5-7 days for the flavors to blend in.
For the laksa
- Add laksa paste and water in a pot, bring to boil.
- Then put in prawns, bean curd and coconut milk simmer till cooked.
- Separately cook rice vermicelli in boiling water.
- Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water for about a minute, making sure they retain their crispiness
- Place cooked rice vermicelli and beansprouts in a bowl.
- Add prawns, bean curd, fish cake and boiled egg.
- Note: If you can’t find fish cake bean curd or galangal, its fine. You can skip them.