This recipe for Laksa Soup – A Malaysian Coconut Curry Soup will take you on a fun adventure to your local Asian market, perhaps introducing you to new ingredients and can be made authentically from scratch. Or if you prefer, I’ve included an easier “cheater version” as well. It’s actually simple to make, but requires a few ingredients that are not readily available at most grocery stores.
The flavorful base of the soup is called Laksa paste – basically lemongrass, chilies, shallots, galanga, turmeric, spices and dried shrimp all blended up in the food processor, then sauteed in a pot with a little oil to deepen the flavor. Into the same pot goes the chicken stock, the chicken, shrimp, tofu puffs (optional) fish balls (also optional) and coconut milk. After a quick simmer, it’s done. Ladle over fresh rice noodles, top with a handful of crunchy bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and mint, and serve with lime wedges, hot chili sauce and a sprinkling of crispy shallots. It’s a soup that takes you far, far away, and it has been a hit at home when the temperatures are cooler. It is a “fishy” tasting soup, so be warned if this is not your thing.
The easy cheater version, is to just purchase pre-made Laksa Paste in a jar.
While they are seeping, chop up the rest of the Laksa paste ingredients and place in a food processor.
Finely chop galanga, turmeric and lemongrass.
If you can’t find fresh turmeric, ground is fine.
Blend it all up until it becomes a vibrantly colored paste.
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 recipe for Laksa Paste (see below) or 1 Jar of Prepared Laksa Paste
- 6 cups chicken stock or broth
- 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
- 1½ pounds chicken (breast or thigh meat) cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 pound raw large shrimp (peeled )
- 2 cups thick coconut milk (do not use “lite”)
- 12 fish balls (optional - available in the frozen section of the Asian Market)
- 1-2 cups fried tofu- (optional- available in the refrigerated section at the Asian market) sliced
- 3-4 cups fresh bean sprouts
- 1- 1½ pounds fresh thin rice noodles (refrigerated section at the Asian market)
- Lime Juice to taste ( 1-2 limes)
- Fish Sauce to taste
- Garnishes: lime wedges, cilantro, Vietnamese mint, sambal chili paste, fried shallots (available in jars at Asian market)
- Homemade Laksa Paste
- 4-5 dried red chilies
- 2 tablespoons dried shrimp (available at Asian Markets)
- 5 shallots (about 1 cup) roughly chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons galanga - finely chopped
- 2 large lemongrass stocks - finely chopped (1/2 cup chopped) - find frozen chopped lemongrass at the Asian market.
- 1 teaspoon fresh turmeric (or ground is OK, too)
- 6 candle nuts or substitute cashews, brazil nuts or macadamia (optional- you can leave the nuts out)
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste (or shrimp sauce)
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Make the Laksa paste (or use store-bought). See notes below.
- In a large heavy bottom soup pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high heat. Add all the Laksa Paste, and saute, stirring constantly until it becomes very fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. (turn stove fan on).
- Add chicken broth and sugar.
- Bring to a boil. Add chicken, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 4 minutes. Add shrimp. Cook for 1-2 minutes, add coconut milk, fish balls and tofu. Simmer until heated through.
- Squeeze lime juice, starting with a ½ a lime, and more to taste.
- Add fish sauce to taste, adding a teaspoon at a time.
- In a separate pot, heat enough water to cover the fresh rice noodles. Once water is boiling add the rice noodles, turn heat off, and let rice noodles stand, heating up for 2 minutes, drain.
- Divide noodles among bowls. Ladle soup over top of noodles. Top bowls with an handful of fresh bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and mint and a sprinkling of crispy shallots. Serve with chili sauce and lime wedges.
- NOTES: To make Laksa Paste: Seep dried chilies and dried shrimp in boiling water for 20 minutes. Prep and place all the other ingredients, except oil in a food processor. Drain shrimp and chilies and add to food processor. Blend until finely chopped, scraping down sides as needed. Add oil and continue blending until it becomes a fine paste. Don’t let the smell or taste scare you. It will all balance out in the end.