This traditional lemak-style laksa is perfect for a cold evening
in. The key is to process or pound the paste to as smooth a
consistency as you can for the best result.
1 tbsppeanut oil1.4 litrescoconut milk500 mlchicken stock1 tbspfish sauce, or to taste1 tbspshaved light palm sugar, or to taste1 bunchsnake beans, cut into 5cm lengths400 gmthin dried rice noodles6boiled eggs, halvedTo serve:Vietnamese mintTo serve:cucumber, cut into julienneLaksa paste20 gmshrimp paste8candlenuts (see note)1 tbspcoriander seeds2 tspcumin seeds2lemongrass stalks (white part only), coarsely chopped1Spanish onion, finely chopped6dried long red chillies, soaked in warm water for 1 hour, drained20 gm (4cm piece)galangal, pounded with a mortar and pestle15 gm (3cm piece)turmeric, coarsely chopped3garlic cloves, crushedFried tofuFor deep-frying:vegetable oil500 gmsilken tofu, cut into 4cm cubes 75 gm (½ cup)plain flour
For laksa paste, preheat oven to 180C. Wrap shrimp paste in foil and roast until fragrant (5-10 minutes). Dry-roast candlenuts, coriander seeds and cumin seeds (2-3 minutes), transfer to a mortar and pestle and pound until finely ground. Process lemongrass in a food processor or blender until very finely chopped, add remaining ingredients, shrimp paste, candlenuts, spices and 2 tbsp water and process to a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, add laksa paste, stir-fry until fragrant and toasted (2-4 minutes), then add coconut milk and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then add fish sauce and palm sugar. Set aside and keep warm.
Blanch snake beans (2 minutes), refresh and set aside.
For fried tofu, heat 5cm vegetable oil in a wok until shimmering. Dust tofu with flour and deep-fry in batches, turning occasionally, until golden and crisp (2-3 minutes). Drain on absorbent paper.
Cook noodles in boiling water until tender (2-4 minutes), drain and divide among serving bowls. Top with snake beans, boiled eggs and fried tofu, then ladle hot soup over. Serve with Vietnamese mint and cucumber.