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Laksa Lemak – coconut curry soup

Laksa Lemak

Laksa Lemak

I’ve harboured deep Laksa love for more than twenty years. A small and unassuming Malaysian cafe in suburban Melbourne is responsible. Laksa Lemak from the Penang Coffee House was our regular Sunday dinner for close to 20 years, a high point before diving back into the working week.

Digestive issues put a stop to that. I decided a bowl of steaming coconut curry soup made without onion, garlic, crispy fried shallots and hokkein noodles would sully my taste expectations so I abandoned my love and let the flavour become a lingering memory. It was a memory hard to suppress.

The Penang Coffee House is well away from temptation now, but the flavour longing stayed with me. With nothing to lose but time, I embarked on recreating the delicious laksa flavour using ingredients I could eat without repercussions. There was a huge amount of enjoyment in consuming the works-in-progress, all were delicious although it took a couple of attempts to get the well rounded fragrant spicy flavour and murky laksa textural finish right.

The Laksa paste is the most important part of this recipe, it’s the flavour bomb for the soup. Don’t stint on the quantities of aromatics. They may seem excessive for two large bowls of soup, but they are the heart and soul of a steaming good laksa. The paste can be made well ahead and stored in the fridge for a few days.

I used a handwritten recipe from my cooking mentor Marieke, and Simon Bryant’s Laksa recipe from his book “Vegies” for guidance. My palate did the rest.

What makes a Laksa distinctive is the broth, but noodles are important too, usually two contrasting types then tofu, chicken, seafood and vegetables are added at the cook’s discretion. I followed Bryant’s suggestion and served the soup topped with fresh coriander leaves and Vietnamese mint

Totally inauthentic but enormously enjoyable, this is a fabulous spicy dinner soup for those who follow the FODMAP diet and love to cook.

Don’t be deterred by the length of the list of ingredients. Organisation makes this a fairly quick dish to prepare.

While the laksa paste was toasting I used a large pot of boiling water with a fitted steamer to cook the spaghetti, but left it with a little bite. At the same time I steamed the chicken and prawns on top. I then used the spaghetti water to soak the bean thread noodles.

Once the broth was complete, and simmering, I lightly steamed the vegetables then reheated the noodles in the bottom pot of water for 1 minute, before draining and dividing between two large soup bowls. I then added the vegetables and proteins, ladelled over the simmering broth then topped the lot with bean shoots and herbs. The heat of the broth heated the tofu chicken and prawns and finished cooking the vegetables.

Laksa for 2

for the paste:

1 birdseye chilli, sliced

1 1/2 teaspoon blachan (fermented fish paste)

1 tablespoon dried shrimp

2 kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade

1 lime, shredded zest only

3 stalks of lemongrass, tender heart only, bruised and sliced

2 tablespoons grated root ginger

3 coriander roots, scraped and thoroughly washed and chopped

45g macadamia nuts

3 teaspoons Malay curry powder

pinch of asafoetida

To make the paste:

Blitz all the ingredients together in a food processor. Set aside.

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noodles:

90g GF spaghetti

40g bean thread vermicelli

Cook the spaghetti to the manufacturer’s minimum recommended time instruction. Drain refresh and set aside.

Soak the bean thread vermicelli in boiling water for 5 minutes, drain, refresh and set aside.

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protein:

1 chicken breast, steamed and shredded

6 prawns, shelled and steamed

125g firm tofu, cut into 2cm dice

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vegetables:

2 small bok choy, quartered

1/2 carrot, sliced diagonally

2 shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/2 bunch broccolini

Lightly steam the vegetables

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soup:

300mls coconut milk

300mls prawn stock

400mls chicken stock

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seasonings:

Thai fish sauce

lime juice

brown sugar

_________________________________________

garnishes:

125g bean shoots

fresh coriander leaves

Vietnamese mint leaves

2 kaffir lime leaves, chiffonade

Heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil in a small pan.

Add all of the laksa paste and cook over a medium heat until it well toasted and fragrant, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and stock and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Season to taste with fish sauce, lime juice and a little brown sugar.

Divide the lightly cooked warm noodles, tofu, meat and vegetables to two large soup bowls.

Ladle over the broth.

Garnish with coriander, Vietnamese mint, extra chilli and lime leaf.

Serve immediately.

About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

32 comments on “Laksa Lemak – coconut curry soup

  1. E. Teresinha
    November 4, 2016

    Only tried once, but the taste has been engraved in my mind since 2009. I cannot wait to do it for the first time. Thanks for sharing the recipe, it sure looks delicious 🙂

    Like

  2. ChgoJohn
    July 26, 2016

    I’m not at all familiar with Malaysian cuisine, Sandra, so this curry is completely new to me. I think I’ll try to locate a Malaysian restaurant before I attempt to prepare your laksa. Authentic or not, it would be nice to at least have a general idea of what to aim for. 🙂

    Like

  3. Lisa @ cheergerm
    July 19, 2016

    This looks and sounds marvellous, love the idea of red miso in place of the shrimp paste for a veggie alternative.

    Like

  4. jules
    July 17, 2016

    I had laksa the other night in a restaurant in Perth – Nasi Lemak. It was excellent and I was just thinking I should make it myself again. I love your recipe.

    Like

  5. chef mimi
    July 16, 2016

    wow does that look good! Such fabulous ingredients and flavors! I hope I can get everything to make this soup.

    Like

  6. Eha
    July 15, 2016

    Love, love, love laksa and with no food allergies can indulge in the classic recipes . . .but yours sounds very interesting and shall put the recipe atop my kitchen file and try! Yes, love the Beer/Bryant version also and fondly remember their TV series. Hope everyone Australian knows Maggie has a wonderful monthly newsletter on line and a great farm shop from which to buy goodies unavailable elsewhere. Lots of special packages – yes, I am ‘addicted’ 🙂 ! She also runs a very successful MB Fund and is making good, interesting healthy food for older Australians in institutional care the priority for the rest of her life: admirable!!!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      July 15, 2016

      After the totally horrific experience I had with my Dad in care, Maggie’s initiative gives me hope that there just might be proper food if my kids deem nursing home care necessary for me. We just have to work on getting care of the emotional, physical, and intellectual needs of aged care inpatients improved a few 1000%. Laksa lovers unite…..

      Like

      • Eha
        July 15, 2016

        Let’s take it in small steps! This is a worldwide problem. Let us keep it within our country for just a moment!! I have an ‘old folks home’ within our gated community here . . . and I shudder!! About all you talk about: but, in this case, food!! At the moment, under not flush c’stances, hers is one of the few causes I fervently support – and I DO hope that her recognition will make just a tad of difference . . . any of you reading, click on, see what you think . . .

        Like

  7. Brian
    July 15, 2016

    G’day Sandra – yes, no one should have to forgo the joy of a good Laksa. Yours sounds delish!
    Have bookmarked your recipe, but I’m afraid I’ve been spoilt/ rewarded for the past few years. On visiting my aged parents, a near 3 hr drive, I always end up at Noodle Johnny’s in Carrum Downs. The name of the place doesn’t do the food justice – The wok tosser is Korean, but he has a good handle on this Malay classic.

    And yes, the Penang Coffee house was a fave, when living around that necko the wood too.
    thanks again
    Brian

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      July 15, 2016

      There’s something addictive about the flavours of laksa, glad you can get a regular fix. Nailing the recipe and keeping my gut happy has been a major achievement

      Like

  8. Nancy |Plus Ate Six
    July 14, 2016

    Your determination is admirable! I’m glad you got there and can now get your laksa fix. Simon Bryant and Maggie Beer on a Cook and a Chef is still one of my all time favourite shows.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      July 15, 2016

      The cook and the chef was a great series and I’m really pleased to have Bryant’s book on my shelf. It’s wonderful to have found a way through the laksa maze

      Like

  9. ardysez
    July 14, 2016

    Sounds and looks delicious, Sandra.

    Like

  10. Debi @ My Kitchen Witch
    July 14, 2016

    This sounds fabulous and would love to make it, but need to take into account my husband’s shellfish allergy. Perhaps with a little kitchen experimentation of my own, I can come up with something equally delicious.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      July 15, 2016

      It seems we all have food challenges to work around, it makes like interesting. One of the recipes I used as a reference is for a vegan laksa. He suggests in lieu of blachan and dried shrimp to use a fermented soy product. Red miso should do the job, then just omit the prawns and use all chicken or veg stock. Replace the fish sauce with light soy. I hope that helps and tempts you to make laksa

      Liked by 1 person

  11. cookingwithshy
    July 14, 2016

    Delicious!!! I just had some on a trip to Singapore and have been meaning to make some too…great share!!

    Like

  12. Linda Duffin
    July 14, 2016

    Sounds wonderful, love a good laksa.

    Like

  13. katechiconi
    July 14, 2016

    I’m so grateful that I can still eat onions and garlic! I make cheat’s laksa with commercial paste but zing it up with my own home grown lime zest and lemongrass, and I make it with wok-ready noodles or bean thread, depending on what I have. It’s a firm favourite with both of us to use up leftover roast chook, immensely comforting and delicious. Yours is far more authentic and must be infinitely more complex.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      July 14, 2016

      Sometimes short cuts are life-savers Kate, and I know there are some excellent ready made curry pastes on the market but sadly my fructose intolerance make them a no go zone. I just really glad to have come up with a laksa I can eat. I can’t believe I left it so long.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. anne54
    July 14, 2016

    I love laksa too, and yours sounds delicious. It is on my menu for next week!

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      July 14, 2016

      There seem to be loads of Laksa fans, this is a good one. I hope you like it Anne

      Like

      • anne54
        July 14, 2016

        Hopefully I will remember to let you know!

        Like

  15. Francesca
    July 14, 2016

    This is what I want, no need,tonight. Am so ill again, a bowl of laksa would slide down so nicely.

    Like

    • ladyredspecs
      July 14, 2016

      I wish I could home deliver a good dose of sunshine and a seafood laksa, get well quickly

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Jhuls
    July 14, 2016

    This looks so mouthwatering! 😀

    Like

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