Laksa is said to have been introduced to Malaysia by the Peranakan people, whose ancestors migrated to the modern day Malay peninsula (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia) from China in the 1400s. Their food and style of cooking is known as ‘Nyonya’ cuisine, and is a brilliant example of using classic Chinese ingredients and traditional cooking techniques alongside Malaysian spices & flavours. I love learning the history behind how food around the world evolves with migration, but at the same time still manages to remain true to its roots. It’s something I have always grown up with – my grandparents were born in India, my parents in Kenya and I in London and I count myself incredibly lucky to have been exposed to such a melting pot of language, culture and most importantly – food!
P.S. I am in no way claiming this to be an authentic Laksa, but I think the curry paste itself is pretty damn good (and hopefully accurate!). Although I’ll let you know in September when I get back from visiting Malacca – the heartland of Laksa, or so I’ve heard…
I used whatever vegetables I had in the fridge, as long as you think they will work together for you, use what you want! You can substitute the prawns for chicken or tofu (slice and deep fry for a delicious vegetarian option).
Spicy Prawn Curry Laksa (serves 4)
4 cloves garlic
2 shallots (or just normal onions if you don’t have any)
10 dried red chillies (soaked in hot water for 10-15 mins until softened)
10 cashew nuts
5 inch piece of ginger
2 lemongrass stalks (cut off the woody green ends)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2-1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to your tastebuds, if you like it really spicy you can add some fresh green chillies too)
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp coriander seeds (dry roast in a pan briefly)
Juice and zest 1 lime
1 tbsp tumeric powder (if you have fresh turmeric, definitely use it!)
Handful fresh coriander
Handful fresh mint
Approx 6 TBSP oil (to bind together the paste)
Salt to taste
4 TBSP Vegetable oil
400ml coconut milk
1 small tin coconut cream
Approx 800ml stock (this can be veg/chicken or fish)
1 TBSP fish sauce (optional – don’t be scared of this stuff, it’s smelly but makes a big flavour difference)
2-3 TBSP tamarind paste
200g Thin rice noodles
200g King Prawns
1/2 Packet beansprouts
1 red pepper
1 packet enoki mushrooms
1 packet spinach
Finely sliced red chilli
- Check if your noodles require pre-soaking otherwise familiarise yourself with their cooking method.
- Blitz together all the paste ingredients in a food processor. It’s going to make more than you need, but you can easily freeze the rest in a sealable bag or keep it in the fridge for 1-2 weeks (make sure there’s enough oil to coat it)
- Fry off 1/2 the paste in 4 TBSP vegetable oil (approx) until fragrant. Pour in the coconut milk, coconut cream & half the stock. Add fish sauce, lime juice and tamarind paste. Let simmer for 10 minutes on low-medium heat. Add more stock if you want to, depending on the consistency you want from the soup!
- If you want to make crispy shallots, finely slice them into rings (using a knife or mandolin – please watch your fingers!). Put them into a pan with cold oil, turn the heat up to medium and watch them carefully. As soon as you think they are almost crispy enough, take them out and drain on paper towels – they’ll continue to cook as they cool.
- Finely slice the pepper, and separate the enoki mushrooms. Add the vegetables to the soup, with the mushrooms and spinach going in last. Let cook
- Add the noodles and let them cook.
- Just before serving, add your prawns and cook until pink.
- Pour the liquid into 4 bowls, adding the vegetables and noodles to this. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, some extra bean sprouts, lime wedges & the crispy shallots. Enjoy!