Recipes

2. Laksa

January 19, 2015
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Give me a bowl of laksa anytime and I’m happy. One of the greatest dishes ever created in Asia and presumably one that will continue to melt the hearts of many like me! I was one of the lucky ones, to have eaten so many different versions of laksa from a really young age, might I also add, for breakfast mostly! I love my laksa rich and spicy! Master the technique of separating the oil from the coconut milk and you’re there! All I can say is, thank you thank you thank you for the clever people who came up with this dish!

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, cleaned
  • 1 knob ginger, peeled and sliced thickly
  • 4 cloves garlic, bruised and skinned
  • 4 spring onions (shallots)

Rempah

  • 30 (30gm) long dried red chillies, soaked in hot water and drain
  • 4 fresh red chillies
  • 2 medium (240gm) onions or equivalent weight of shallots
  • 4 candlenuts
  • 1 knob (10gm) knob galangal, roughly chopped
  • 1 knob (10gm) fresh turmeric or 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon (10gm) blachan, wrapped in foil and dry roasted in a pan
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 30gm dried shrimp, soaked in water, ground separately
  • 750ml chicken stock (reserved poaching liquid) or good quality store bought
  • 1-2 tablespoon Massel chicken stock powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 200gm fish cake, thickly sliced
  • 8 dried bean curd squares, sliced into 3
  • 1 cup (250ml) coconut cream
  • 250gm dried thick rice noodles or equivalent in fresh laksa noodles
  • Bean sprouts, tailed, blanched
  • 12 medium prawns, shelled, deveined, boiled, sliced into half
  • Laksa leaves, finely sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Method

To poach the chicken, place the chicken in a medium pot and fill it with enough water to just cover the chicken. Place aromats in the pot, cover and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a very light simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the chicken cool in the stock. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, reserve the poaching liquid, remove the meat from the bones and shred. For this amount of laksa, you probably only need one chicken breast. (Keep the rest for my Chicken & Crispy Noodle Salad)

To make the rempah, grind all ingredients to a paste in a mortar and pestle or blender.

In a medium sauce pan, heat ¼ cup of oil over medium heat, add the rempah and fry until fragrant. Remove all but 4 heaped tablespoons of paste, cool the rest and store in a tightly sealed jar in the fridge or freezer.

To the remaining paste, add the dried shrimp, fry a further 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, 1 tablespoon stock powder, sugar and salt. Taste and add the rest of the stock powder if necessary.

Add the tofu, fish cake and coconut cream, pressing the puff tofu into the soup. Bring to the boil and immediately turn off the heat! Taste and adjust seasoning. If you are using store bought chicken stock, taste before adding salt as the stock might already contain enough salt.

Boil dried noodles until al dente, rinse under cold water to remove excess starch and drain. If using fresh rice noodles, blanch and drain. Serve the noodles in a bowl, ladle the laksa gravy with some tofu and fishcake, top with bean sprouts, sliced prawns, shredded chicken, laksa leaves and lime cheeks.

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