The flavors of this popular Southeast Asian street food are bold and simply addictive. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact origin of this delicious spicy noodle soup because it has many different varieties across the region. In Singapore, the “Katong” version or Nyonya Laksa, is believed to have been created after the interaction between the Peranakans with the local Singaporeans.
I have adapted the recipe by reducing the amount of the coconut milk. The end result is a creamier version of laksa without the dominant flavor of coconut milk but the flavor is still iconic and authentic.
Serve 4 to 6
- 800g fresh thick rice noodles usually used for laksa, or use 500g dried thick rice noodles粗米粉
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- shrimp heads and shells from 300 g of shrimp新鲜整虾
- 4 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk椰奶
- 3 tablespoons fish sauce鱼露
- 1 tablespoon caster sugar白糖
- 1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
- 8-10 shallots, peeled小红葱头
- 30g dried shrimp soaked in warm water for 15 minutes小虾干
- 12 pieces candlenuts石栗
- 6 large dried red chili, soaked in warm water until soft
- 8g ginger生姜
- 15g turmeric root or use 5 tablespoons of turmeric powder姜黄
- 8g galangal or use 3 tablespoons of galangal powder高良姜
- 1 large lemon grass stalk cut off about 1-inch from the bottom and break into pieces香茅
- 1 handful laksa leaves (Vietnamese Coriander)水蓼, for substitute, use mint or equal parts mint and cilantro
- 1/3 cup cooking oil
- 300 g shrimp keep the shells and head for stock
- 10 -15 fried Tofu Puffs cut into half 豆腐泡
- 2 cups beansprouts豆芽
- laksa leaves
Preparing laksa paste
- Place all ingredients in food processor. Pulse a few times and then grind into smooth paste. You may need to scrap the bowl few times to make sure everything is ground finely. Add a bit more oil if you needed to get it going
Preparing laksa broth
- Preheat a large heavy-bottom pot. Add cooking oil. Carefully add the shells and heads from the shrimp and stir fry until they turn orange in color. Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to let it gently simmer for 30 minutes.
- Strain the stock and discard the shells.
Ready to start serve Laksa – blanch the bean sprouts and shrimp
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Blanch the bean sprouts for about 10 seconds, drain and then run through cold water quickly.
- Bring another fresh pot of water to a boil. Cook the shrimp until they turn pink and then refresh with cold water. Set aside.
Putting laksa paste and laksa broth together to make the Laksa Sauce
- Preheat a large heavy-bottom pot. Add laksa paste (there’s already oil in there). Stir fry until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Keep stirring to prevent the paste catching at the bottom of the pot. Pour in the Laksa broth (shrimp stock). Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to let it gently simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the coconut milk. From this point on, you don’t want to let it come to a hard boil or the coconut milk with turn frothy. Add Tofu puffs and let it gently simmer for 10 minutes to let them soak up the gravy. Season the broth with sugar, salt and fish sauce.
Cooking the noodles:
- Bring a bit pot of water to a boil. It takes about 15 minutes to boil the noodles if you use dried rice noodles. If you are able to get packaged fresh thick rice noodles, just quickly blanch them in the boiling water.
- Portion the rice noodles in a large bowl. Arrange cooked shrimp and bean sprouts on the noodles. Generously ladle the hot laksa sauce over and sprinkle in more laksa leaves
- Serve immediately
You can make laksa sauce and store it in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.