Coconut Curry Laksa with Rice Noodles and Crab


Laksa is a staple coconut soup from South East Asia, primarily Malaysia and Singapore. The origin of the name itself is unclear, but rumor has it that the name means “one thousand”, perhaps as a reference to how many ingredients go into it!

The spice paste looks intimidating but is worth the trouble, as it will take some looking to get all of the ingredients and it will last for months in the refrigerator. The paste can also be simply cooked with some coconut milk as a base for Southeast Asian curries.

We have left the recipe for sambal, a chili “jam”, here just for fun but we don’t expect you to cook this for 3 days- we expect (and encourage!) you to buy a jar of sambal from an Asian supermarket and use that instead. It's cheating, but you have my permission.

Photo taken by Michelle Williams


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  1. TO MAKE YOUR LAKSA PASTE. dry roast the belacan, dried prawns, chilies, and coriander seeds in separate pans. Cook over medium heat until fragrant, the allow them to cool.

    Grind spices to a fine powder in an electric spice grinder, or crush in a mortar and pestle.

    Finely chop onions, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric, bird’s eye chili.

    Soak dried shrimp and chilies in water in your medium mixing bowl for 10 mins.

    Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a smooth paste. This will make a quart-which is more than enough for this recipe.

    Any paste that is not used can be stored in a sterilized screw top jar. Place the paste in the jar and cover with a little oil to prevent oxidization. This will keep up to 2 months in the fridge.

  2. TO MAKE YOUR SAMBAL. blend chilies, onions, garlic and oil into to a fine paste in a robo coupe.

    Place into a non-reactive pot and cook over low heat for approximately 3 days making sure to stir regularly to avoid sticking.

    The sambal should become a deep red color and the oil should start to appear on the surface.

    Add the tamarind puree, sugar and fish sauce.

    Cook for 2 hours.

  3. TO MAKE YOUR BROTH. place laksa paste and chili jam in a heavy based pot cook the for 1-2 mins until fragrant

    Add the palm sugar and stir until dissolved.

    Add coconut milk and white chicken stock brings to the boil and the simmer for 10 minutes.

    Season with the fish sauce and lime juice.

  4. TO GARNISH. divide the noodle and crab meat between 4 soup bowls.

    Bring the broth back up to a boil.

    In a separate mixing bowl place, bean sprouts, Thai basil, cilantro, sliced chili and mix together.

    Divide the soup into the four bowls.

    Just before serving place the bean sprout salad on top of the broth, finish with a sprinkle of crispy shallots.

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