With its aromatic rich deep flavour, seafood laksa is the queen of South-East Asian soups and can be enjoyed at any time of the day.
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To make the laksa paste, place the chillies, cashews, garlic, shallot, coriander roots and stems, galangal or ginger, lemongrass, fish sauce, cumin, ground coriander and ground turmeric in a small processor. Process until mixture is smooth and well combined.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the laksa paste and cook, stirring, for 1 min or until aromatic. Add the stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 mins to infuse flavours.
Meanwhile, place noodles in a large heatproof bowl. Cover with boiling water and set aside for 3 mins or until just tender. Drain well and divide among serving bowls. Top with bok choy leaves.
Add the lime juice, fish sauce and sugar to the coconut mixture. Add the bok choy, prawns, squid and fish, and simmer for 4-5 mins or until prawns change colour and curl, and seafood is cooked.
Ladle soup and seafood over the noodles. Top with spring onion and chilli. Serve with Thai basil or coriander, mint and lime wedges.
Halved soft boiled eggs or fried tofu cubes would make a great addition to this dish.
If you prefer a smooth laksa soup, simply strain at the end of Step 2 to remove any solids from the paste.
If you’re not a spice lover, remove the seeds from both the dried and fresh chillies.
COOK. STORE. SAVE.
Clever storage: Leftover laksa can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. If you want to get ahead, you can make your curry paste, transfer it to a small airtight container and store in the freezer for up to 2 months. The paste won’t take long to defrost at room temperature. The soup base – apart from the noodles, fish and seafood – can also be made in advance, transferred to an airtight container and frozen. It can be placed straight in a saucepan and defrosted over low heat.
Use it up: We use the white, tender part of the lemongrass in the curry paste. Tie the remaining stalk into a knot and add to the soup base as it simmers to impart more flavour. Discard before adding the seafood.
Root to tip: There is no wasting any of the bok choy as we use both the stems as well as leaves.
More than just a noodle soup, laksa is an experience. With its creamy coconut broth laden with slippery rice noodles and freshly poached seafood, this Malaysian classic is as satisfying to cook as it is to eat. Also known as seafood curry laksa, the secret to this recipe is making your own paste. While supermarket paste is available, it’s not until you make your own that the full flavour of the dish really opens up. Sweet from the sugar, sour from the lime and, of course, salty from the fish sauce, this richly flavoured masterpiece is topped with cool cucumber and fresh mint, and finished with crispy fried shallots. While traditionally eaten for breakfast or lunch, our laksa is worthy of being a dinner party star.
While the laksa paste has a few ingredients, the food processor does all the work. Traditionally, laksa paste uses candlenuts to provide body and texture. With a mild taste and almost waxy consistency, candlenuts look a lot like macadamias, which can be used in their place. Make sure you give your coriander roots a good scrub before adding to the food processor, as they sometimes have a bit of soil trapped in the lower stems. Galangal is a rhizome that belongs to the ginger family. Look for young, fresh galangal as it tends to dry out as it ages, making it difficult to grate. If unavailable, you can swap it for fresh ginger. Always check that your spices are not out of date before adding them to a recipe, as they tend to lose their pungency if they’ve been stored in your pantry for too long. If your spice paste isn’t blending smoothly, add a dash of water to help it along. Never use oil, as this makes the paste gluggy. To avoid the turmeric staining the bowl of your food processor, if processed with the other ingredients, add the turmeric to the saucepan with the paste instead.
We use a combination of prawns and squid in our laksa. The prawns can be bought already peeled, either fresh or frozen, from the seafood section at Coles. So too can the squid – simply slice it into rings. You can also use mussels, clams or scallops in this laksa seafood. We suggest using firm white fish fillets. These are a popular choice, as they don’t have as strong a flavour as other fish (such as salmon) and instead take on the already intense flavour of the soup. These fillets also hold up well when simmered. Examples of firm white fish fillets include barramundi, snapper, flathead and ling. The fish, too, can be bought fresh or frozen. We recommend cutting the fish into 3cm pieces – this is so it cooks at the same time as the other seafood. Four-to-five minutes cooking is all the fish will need. In this time, the prawns will have turned pink and curled, and the fish and squid will be just tender.
Make sure you fry your curry paste until it is aromatic. The onion and garlic in the paste need to be cooked enough so they don’t taste raw in the final dish. This paste then needs to be simmered in the stock and coconut milk to allow the flavours to impart into the broth.
If fish stock is unavailable, you can use a light chicken stock or, better still, make up a batch of our easy fish stock and store in the freezer.
While the broth simmers, place the noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover with plenty of boiling water. Use chopsticks or a fork to separate the strands as they soak.
You’ll know the laksa has been simmered for long enough when a layer of chilli-flecked oil rises to the surface.
Seafood laksa is only one of many amazing South-East Asian soups. Another classic is tom kha gai, a Thai-style coconut chicken soup. Thailand is also known for its famous clear soup prawn tom yum. Or why not try this chicken tom yum and our vegan version, tom yum soup with tempeh. Another classic South-East Asian soup worth cooking is the Vietnamese favourite chicken pho.
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