Laksa is a type of spicy and fragrant noodle soup popular in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia but prevalent across Southeast Asia. Noodles are served in a curry-like broth flavored with spices, fresh aromatics, shrimp paste, and coconut milk. Fried tofu puffs, fish cakes, blanched cockles, chicken, shrimp, minced laksa leaves, bean sprouts, and other vegetables are popular toppings.
Although the curry/coconut milk variant of laksa is more common outside of Asia, another variation uses a sour asam (often tamarind) soup base. The dish has its roots in the fusion cuisine of China and Malaysia known as Peranakan, or nyonya.
I’m a restaurant laksa eater, but I decided to develop my own recipe after reading a lot about the dish.
I’ve tried several laksa recipes and watched food vloggers try laksa at different stands around town. I quickly learned that everyone has a slightly different sense of what a “perfect” laksa consists of in terms of both appearance and flavor.
Now we begin!
- 12 large shrimp
- 4 bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs
- 4 portions of Hokkien egg noodles or rice vermicelli
- 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 1-3 limes (for juicing and wedges for serving)
- 1 package of soy puffs (halved)
- 2 minced Thai chilies
- 1 stalk of minced lemongrass (remove the tough woody parts)
- 1 clove of minced garlic
- 1 can of 400 ml coconut milk
- 4 cups of chicken stock
- 2 cups of trimmed and cleaned mung bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup of laksa paste
- 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup of all purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon of brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- The recommended temperature for baking a cake is 400 degrees Fahrenheit. We used white pepper, but you may also use black, and placed the chicken thighs on a baking sheet coated with parchment paper, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook for 40 minutes at 350F. Get it out of the oven and put it to the side.
- Two teaspoons of vegetable oil should be heated in a big saucepan or medium pot over medium heat while the chicken is cooking. Mix in the ginger and garlic and let it cook for a minute.
- When the chilies and lemongrass have been minced, add them to the pan and let them cook for three minutes.
- Mix in the brown sugar and laksa paste. Keep cooking for another 3 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Throw in some chicken broth, some coconut milk, and some fish sauce. Obtain a rolling boil. Cover and boil the soy puffs for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, prepare the noodles as directed on the package (for cooked hokkien noodles or rice vermicelli, this means rinsing them in warm water) (for fresh or dried wheat noodles). To serve, divide among four big bowls of noodle soup.
- Chicken and skin should be shredded and then divided among serving bowls. Add any remaining liquid from the roasting pan to the stock.
- Adjust the saltiness and sourness of the soup to your liking by adding lime juice and additional fish sauce. For those who don’t like the strong flavor of fish sauce, salt is a good alternative.
- In the meantime, gently coat the thinly sliced shallots in flour. In a cast-iron skillet, warm up two more teaspoons of oil. Crisp up the shallots in a pan until they are done.
- Prepare the shrimp by seasoning them with salt and pepper and searing them in the same oil used to fry the shallots.
- Soy puffs should be sprinkled on top of the laksa after the broth has been poured over the noodles and chicken. Cooked shrimp, bean sprouts, cilantro, and fried shallots make a great topping.
- Include additional lime wedges on the side, and dig in!