This recipe for Laksa Soup – Malaysian Coconut Curry Soup is full of amazing flavor and surprisingly simple to make. The secret to this soup is its flavorful base, Laksa paste -which you can make from scratch or buy.
Laksa pasta is a blend of lemongrass, dried chilies, shallots, galanga, turmeric, spices, dried shrimp and shrimp paste, all blended up in the food processor, then sautéed in a little oil to deepen the flavor.
It 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, fast “cheater version” as well, using store-bought laksa paste.
Laksa Soup Recipe | 2-minute video
Into the same pot goes the chicken stock, the chicken, optional shrimp, kefir lime leaves 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.
Like I said, the easy “cheater version”, is simply to purchase pre-made Laksa Paste in a jar. I like this brand!
Or if you want to make the laksa paste from scratch – it’s actually not hard and has no preservatives or msg.
While they are steeping, chop up the rest of the Laksa paste ingredients and place them in a food processor.
Finely chop galangal root, turmeric root and lemongrass.
If you can’t find fresh turmeric, ground is fine.
Blend it all up until it becomes a vibrantly colored paste.
The best firm fish for soups or stews:
You generally want to use firm white fish for most stews and soups, because they will hold their shape and not disintegrate in the liquid. Here are 10 the best fish (and seafood) to use in soups and stews.
- sea bass
- black cod
- red snapper
Laksa Soup Recipe – Malaysian Curry Coconut Soup with your choice of homemade laksa paste, or easier “cheater’s version” with store-bought laksa paste. (Makes 10 1/2 cups soup without the noodles)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil ( like peanut oil or coconut oil)
- 1 recipe for Laksa Paste – Or one-two (7-ounce) jars of store-bought Laksa Paste – ( I like this brand- see notes)
- 6 cups chicken stock or broth
- 8 kefir lime leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar or palm sugar
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken (breast or thigh meat) cut into bite-sized pieces (or sub fish or crispy tofu)
- 1 pound raw large shrimp (raw, peeled, or sub firm fish, or more chicken or veggies )
- 2 x 13.5 ounce cans full-fat coconut milk. Do not use “lite” – and if you like an even richer broth, add a third can.
- Juice from 1–2 limes
- fish sauce to taste ( I use 1 tablespoon)
- 1 pound dry rice noodles (2 ounces per person) (or 1 1/2 – 2 lbs fresh rice noodles from the refrigerated section of the Asian market).
- Garnishes: bean sprouts, lime wedges, cilantro, Vietnamese mint, scallions, sambal chili paste, fried shallots (available in jars at an Asian market)
- OPTIONAL ADDITIONS or Substitutions: Fried tofu cubes, fish balls ( frozen), scallops or other firm fish, clams, mussels, and veggies like snow peas, mushrooms, carrots, bell pepper, chopped spinach or greens etc….
Homemade Laksa Paste
- 3–5 dried red chilies, ( 3 is medium spicy)
- 2 tablespoons dried shrimp (available at Asian Markets) optional see notes
- 3–5 shallots (about 1 cup) roughly chopped
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons galanga – finely chopped
- 2 large lemongrass stocks – finely chopped (1/2 cup chopped) – feel free to use frozen chopped lemongrass at the Asian market.
- 2 teaspoons fresh turmeric (optional, and ground is OK, too)
- 6 candlenuts or substitute 12 soaked cashews, brazil nuts or macadamia nuts (soak in hot water 15 mins- optional- you can leave the nuts out)
- 1 tablespoon shrimp paste (or shrimp sauce) optional
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 3 tablespoons peanut, olive or vegetable oil
- Make the Laksa paste- see the notes below (or use store-bought laksa paste).
- Cook rice noodles according to directions. Set aside. See notes for fresh noodles.
- In a large heavy bottom soup pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add all the homemade Laksa Paste (or the 7-ounce Jar), and saute, stirring constantly until it becomes very fragrant and deep in color about 2-3 minutes. (Turn stove fan on). Add the chicken broth scraping up all the brown bits. Add the lime leaves, salt and sugar and bring to a simmer.
- Add chicken and simmer 4-5 minutes. Add shrimp, cook for 2-3 minutes, add coconut milk. Simmer until heated through. Do not boil this too long or you will loose the lovely sweetness from the coconut milk– just gently warm.
- Add lime juice, starting with a 1 lime, and more to taste. Add fish sauce to taste, adding a teaspoon at a time. The broth should taste rich and deep, and slightly salty (the noodles will mellow the salt out) and just a little limey. If it tastes, too “fishy” add more lime juice. Guests can squeeze more lime to taste. If you want more heat, add chili flakes or chili paste.
- Divide the cooked rice noodles among bowls. Ladle flavorful soup over top of noodles. Top bowls with a handful of fresh bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and/or mint. Serve with chili sauce and lime wedges.
- For rice noodles, calculate two ounces ( dry rice noodles ) per person.
- To make Laksa Paste: Steep dried chilies and dried shrimp in a small bowl of boiling water for 20 minutes. Prep and place all the other ingredients, except the oil in a food processor. Chop Well. Drain shrimp and chilies and add to food processor. Blend until very finely chopped, scraping down sides as needed. The finer, the better. 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 when you add the lime juice.)
- If using store-bought laksa, use one or two 7 ounce jars, or one 14 ounce jar. You could start conservatively ( 1 jar) if unsure of the brand- some brands are much spicier than others and add more paste to the final broth, to taste.
- If using fresh rice noodles, just give them a quick dip in boiling water. They don’t need to “cook”.
- You can also keep cooked shrimp, tofu, or chicken on the side- for guests- to add to their own individual bowls as they choose. Leftover rotisserie chicken or baked chicken breast ( lightly shredded) work well here. Even leftover turkey.
- If in a pinch, you can make this without the shrimp paste or dried shrimp- adding more fish sauce to taste and understanding you will lose the lovely depth and authenticity. That being said, it will still taste pretty good. 😉
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