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 tbsp peanut oil
- 1.4 litres coconut milk
- 500 ml chicken stock
- 1 tbsp fish sauce, or to taste
- 1 tbsp shaved light palm sugar, or to taste
- 1 bunch snake beans, cut into 5cm lengths
- 400 gm thin dried rice noodles
- 6 boiled eggs, halved
- To serve: Vietnamese mint
- To serve: cucumber, cut into julienne
- 20 gm shrimp paste
- 8 candlenuts (see note)
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 lemongrass stalks (white part only), coarsely chopped
- 1 Spanish onion, finely chopped
- 6 dried long red chillies, soaked in warm water for 1 hour, drained
- 20 gm galangal, pounded with a mortar and pestle (4cm piece)
- 15 gm turmeric, coarsely chopped (3cm piece)
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- For deep-frying: vegetable oil
- 500 gm silken tofu, cut into 4cm cubes
- 75 gm plain flour (½ cup)
- 1For 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.
- 2Heat 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.
- 3Blanch snake beans (2 minutes), refresh and set aside.
- 4For 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.
- 5Cook 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.
Note Candlenuts are available from Asian grocers.