There are two ways of making laksa, you can either make the laksa paste and soup stock from scratch, or you can buy both the laksa paste and stock pre-made for an easier week night meal. You can always choose what kind of protein you use; prawn, chicken or vegetarian!
Laksa Lemak or 'Curry Laksa' has the following 4 basic parts to the recipe:
- The Paste - A blend of spices and aromatics that are ground or blended into a paste that becomes the base of the laksa.
- The Stock - The flavoured liquid (cooked with prawn chicken or vegetables) that we use to turn the paste into the soup
- The Soup - The other ingredients that we add into the soup before serving
- The Finale - The final ingredients we add on top of the soup when we serve.
Making your own Laksa Lemak Paste from scratch
Makes: Enough for 8 serves, you can freeze half to use for next time!
Ingredients: 9 (minimum)Cooking time: 20 mins
Skill Level: Easy
Asian curry and soup pastes have a lot of aromatics and spices which is where all of the incredible flavour comes from. It's a great case of the more the merrier, which is so opposite to Italian and European cooking. But because I know it can be tricky to find them and afford them all, I've edited it down to 9 essential ingredients I think you need to have to still make it look and taste like a Laksa, with a few substitution suggestions in case you're stuck.
- 8 large dried chillies (remove the seeds if you don't want it to be spicy)
- 4 Asian red shallots (you can use 1 large red onion as a substitute)
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 2 stalks of fresh lemongrass, you can also use dried
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric, preferably fresh (you can use powder if you can't find this)
- 1 small piece of fresh ginger (or dried ginger powder)
- 5 candlenuts, raw (if you can't find this, you can use macadamia nuts or peanuts)
- Small bunches of coriander roots (buy a bunch of fresh coriander because you will need the leaves for the laksa and snip off the end roots for your paste.) If you can't find this, use coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp*
- 1 teaspoon of shrimp paste (Belachan)*
- 1 small piece of fresh galangal, or galangal powder
- 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
*The dried shrimp and shrimp paste create that amazing umami flavour, so if you want that you can add in a tablespoon of fish sauce as a replacement.
- Pour some hot water over your dried chilli and shrimp in a bowl to rehydrate them for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel off the skin of all of your aromatics and give them a rough chop. For things like lemongrass, bruise the stalk with the back of your knife first before chopping to release as much flavour as possible.
- Chop up your rehydrated chilli and then add all ingredients to a food processor (or blender) and blend! You might need to add some water to it to encourage all of the dry ingredients to turn into a paste. You should add the water that your chilli's were soaking in for extra flavour, add this a tablespoon at a time until you get the right consistency. You may also need to remove the lid and push your ingredients down so everything blends evenly.
- It should end up looking a bit wet and paste like, but still holding it's shape. You can blend until completely smooth, or stop blending earlier so you still have some chunky bits. It's up to you just like how you chose to eat your peanut butter.
- Transfer to a clean glass bowl or container, and keep in the fridge until you're ready to cook or cook with it immediately if you're about to make your laksa.
- I'm recommending glass because the turmeric in the paste is what turns the paste yellow, and as such, will stain any plastic it sits in.
- This recipe makes double the quantity you need for my recipe, so if you want to freeze any for your next laksa, I would fresh freeze at this point.
Buying your Curry Laksa Paste
If you don't want to make this from scratch, or you don't have the time you can always pick up a jar of Laksa paste for about $5 from your local Asian grocer or supermarket.
Just like the paste, you have two options when it comes to the stock.
- Make from scratch using my recipe, this takes about 20 minutes but you need to source the ingredients.
- Buy a pre-made version from the supermarkets or your local Asian grocery store.
Making your own Laksa Stock from scratch
Makes: 8 cups worth, enough to serve 4
Cooking time: 20 mins
Skill Level: Easy
- Prawn - This uses the prawn heads and shells from the prawns you cook in the soup and is the fastest way to make stock. This is the version I'll show below.
- Chicken - This takes about 2-3 hours, but you can use the whole chicken to make the stock, and then shred the meat to add to your laksa.
- Vegetable - Same as the chicken stock, expect don't use chicken and double the vegetables.
Ingredients (for Prawn Stock)
- 3 tablespoons of oil
- 500g of raw and whole prawns. I use banana prawns.
- 8 cups of water or stock of your choice. I use homemade chicken stock that I keep in the freezer.
- 1 teaspoon of tomato paste.
- Peel your prawns and keep the heads and shells for the stock. The actual prawns will be used in the laksa.
- Add oil to a heated pan, and add your prawn heads and shells.
- Cook on medium for 5 minutes until the prawns turn red and golden. Use the back of your spatula to smoosh the prawn heads to release more flavour in the oil. The oil should start to turn orange from the prawns and smell ridiculously good!
- To boost the orange colour and flavour of the prawns, I squeeze 1 teaspoon worth of tomato paste and fry it with the prawns.
- After 10 minutes or so once the prawns have fully rendered, transfer them to a tock pot and pour in your water or stock.
- Simmer and cook for a further 15 minutes. Using a spoon, skim out any of the impurities and froth you see at the top so you can get a super clear and clean stock.
- Simply strain the stock into a sieve and discard all the shells and heads, and that's your laksa stock complete and ready to be used!
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- 1 can (400ml) of coconut milk or cream
- 4 tablespoons of fish sauce, plus extra to taste
- 1 tablespoon of caster sugar
- 1 packet of dry vermicelli noodles
- 1 bunch of your choice of greens: Bok Choy, Broccolini, Snow Peas etc
- 8 Fried tofu puffs
- 2 limes
- fresh coriander
- 1 packet of bean sprouts
- 1 cup of Vietnamese mint or normal leaves, finely chopped
- 6 medium/hard boiled eggs
Your choice of Protein;
- 500g prawns, peeled and raw or
- 1 cup of cooked chicken, shredded or
- 1 cup of mushrooms, preferably Enoki
Or you can go all in and add all three!
COOKING YOUR LAKSA
- Place a pot (roughly a 3-4L pot) on a medium heat and add in 3 tablespoons of neutral oil. Once hot, add in your curry laksa paste (roughly 3 heaped tablespoons) and stir for 10 minutes. If the paste looks a little dry, add in more oil to ensure it cooks properly, it shouldn't catch on the bottom of your pan. You will know when your paste is cooked once your whole kitchen is filled with the wonderful fragrance, and the paste has turned golden!
- Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook your vermicelli noodles per packet instructions.
- Once the curry paste is cooked, pour in your coconut milk/cream. and stir continuously. Leave to cook on a low heat.
- Strain your noodles, and give them a rinse under some cold water. Then set aside.
- Slowly pour the stock into the pot with the curry paste and coconut milk/cream. Then turn the heat on high, and once it hits boiling point turn the heat down on low to let it simmer.
- Season your laksa, with a tablespoon of fish sauce, and a tablespoon of sugar. This will help balance out the spice and salt.
- Start by prepping the rest of your ingredients including slicing your tofu puffs in half, and cutting your greens (eg. trimming the ends off, and cutting them into bite sized chunks.)
- Slice your eggs in half, and start prepping your limes by cutting them in quarters.
- Now, add in your broccolini/greens into your soup.
- Grab your serving bowls, and add in a handful of noodles into each bowl.
- Arrange your mushrooms and chicken into the bowls.
- Add in the tofu puffs into the soup, and continue to stir.
- Now if you are using prawns, you will cook this in the soup by placing them on a slotted spoon and slowly dunk them into the soup for 1 minute until they are cooked. Using a slotted spoon, helps to not lose the prawns in the pot. Once they are cooked, take them out of the soup and add it to the serving bowls.
- Now using a slotted spoon, spoon in the greens and tofu puffs into the serving bowls. And then add 2-3 ladles worth of the soup into your bowls.
- Garnish the bowls with your eggs, mint, coriander, bean sprouts and lime.
- You can also add in some chilli oil, or sambal
- Serve immediately!
Watch the process