Chefs' Recipes

Junda Khoo's curry laksa (laksa lemak)

When coconut, spices and noodles combine...

By Junda Khoo
  • 25 mins preparation
  • 1 hr 30 mins cooking
  • Serves 4 - 6
  • Print
"This is a laksa lemak, which is from Kuala Lumpur," says Junda Khoo, executive chef and co-owner of Sydney's Ho Jiak restaurants. "When I was a kid, my mum would pick us up after school and take us to the golf club to meet my dad, and while we were waiting we'd eat this laksa. It reminds me of those days."
This laksa is designed to be served as part of a banquet.


  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 50 gm curry powder
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 5 fresh curry leaves
  • 1 each star anise and cinnamon quill
  • 1.5 litres unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 torch ginger flower, halved (optional; see note)
  • 1 bunch Vietnamese mint, leaves picked
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 200 ml coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp each caster sugar, sea salt flakes and chicken stock powder
  • 200 gm rice vermicelli
  • 200 gm Hokkien noodles
  • 200 gm snake beans, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 200 gm choy sum, cut into 5cm lengths
  • 200 gm fried tofu, sliced
  • Halved hard-boiled eggs, bean sprouts, round mint leaves, lime wedges, fried shallots, sliced spring onions and laksa sambal (see note), to serve
Laksa paste
  • 2 red onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk (10cm)
  • 2 piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 10 gm toasted belacan (see note)
  • 2 candlenuts (see note)
  • 20 gm dried prawns
  • 25 gm dried chilli, crushed


  • 1
    For laksa paste, pulse ingredients in a food processor until a paste forms.
  • 2
    Heat oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over high heat. Add laksa paste and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant (5 minutes). Add ground, fresh and whole spices with 150ml water and cook, stirring until combined and thickened (5 minutes).
  • 3
    Stir in stock, ginger flower (if using) and mint. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer (1 hour). Strain through a fine sieve, discard solids and return to a clean saucepan. Return pan to medium heat and stir in coconut milk, coconut cream, sugar, salt and stock powder. Reduce heat to low-medium; bring to a simmer (about 75°C) taking care not to boil or the mixture will split.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, prepare noodles and rice vermicelli according to packet instructions then drain and divide among bowls. Add snake beans and choy sum to the laksa soup and cook (4 minutes). Using tongs, arrange vegetables on top of noodles and rice vermicelli. Pour laksa soup over and top with tofu, eggs, bean sprouts, mint and lime wedges. Scatter with fried shallots and spring onions and serve with laksa sambal on the side.


Torch ginger flowers are available from select suppliers. Laksa sambal, belacan and candlenuts are available from Asian grocers.