Prawn Laksa

A wonderful moreish laksa soup with well balanced Malaysian flavours of sweet, sour, salty and spicy. True laksa is time consuming, but totally worth the effort!

As the laksa paste is time consuming, consider making two or three times more than required and freezing the extra paste in portions.

Serves 4

Laksa paste:
2 tbsp dried shrimp
4 small red chillies
1 medium brown onion, roughly chopped
1 knob galangal, peeled and chopped (substitute with fresh ginger)
1 handful of peanuts, ground
2 tbsp minced lemongrass (from tube or fresh)
1 tbsp shrimp paste
1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp ground coriander
Peanut oil

1kg raw king prawns
800ml coconut milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup nước mắm (fish sauce)
8 to 10 pieces fried tofu
250g rice vermicelli noodles, soaked in boiling water and drained
1 cup Vietnamese mint leaves
1 cup coriander leaves chopped
1 lime, cut into quarters
4 big pinches bean sprouts

Soak shrimp in boiling water for 10 minutes. Strain and puree in a blender/grinder with chilli, onion, galangal, nuts, lemongrass, shrimp paste, turmeric, ground coriander and enough oil to make a smooth paste.

Fry paste on a low heat in a little oil until browned and fragrant, about 45 minutes. Add more oil during cooking if paste is catching.

Whilst frying the paste peel the prawns and devein, keeping the shells and heads. Put the prawn flesh back in the fridge.

Fry heads and shells in a little peanut oil until they turn red and become fragrant. Add 2 litres of water and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain prawn stock, discard shells. Should make approx. 1.5 litres of prawn stock.

Add stock to fried laksa paste and simmer for 30 minutes.

While soup is simmering prepare noodles as per packaging.

Add the coconut milk to soup and bring to the boil. Season to taste with brown sugar and fish sauce.

Add tofu pieces.

Add peeled prawns and simmer until just cooked through – approx. 3 or 4 mins.

Check seasoning again. Divide noodles into bowls. Spoon over prawns and laksa stock.

Top with mint, coriander and bean sprouts. Squeeze lime over laksa before eating and add a spoon or two of chilli sambal if you like more heat.