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, fast “cheater version” as well, using store-bought laksa paste. It’s actually surprisingly 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.
The easy cheater version, is to just purchase pre-made Laksa Paste in a jar.
Or try making the laksa paste from scratch. It’s not hard!
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.
Laksa Soup – A Malaysian Coconut Curry Soup
Laksa Soup Recipe – Malaysian Curry Coconut Soup with your choice of homemade laksa paste, or easier “cheater’s version” with store bought laksa paste.
- Prep Time: 20 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 45 mins
- Yield: 8-10
- Category: Main
- Cuisine: malaysian
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 recipe for Laksa Paste or 1 (14 ounce) Jar of Prepared Laksa Paste – ( I like this brand- see notes)
- 6 cups chicken stock or broth
- 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
- 4-5 kefir lime leaves ( optional)
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken (breast or thigh meat) cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 pound raw large shrimp (peeled, or use more chicken )
- 2 cans thick coconut cream. Do not use “lite” – and if you like an even richer broth, add a third can.
- 12 fish balls (totally optional – available in the frozen section of the Asian Market)
- 1-2 cups fried tofu- (totally optional- available in the refrigerated section at the Asian market) sliced
- 3-4 cups fresh bean sprouts
- 1- 1 1/2 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, cilantro, scallions, sambal chili paste, fried shallots (available in jars at Asian market)
Homemade Laksa Paste
- 3-5 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 (optional, and 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, and deep in color 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 1/2 a lime, and more to taste. Add fish sauce to taste, adding a teaspoon at a time. The broth should taste rich and deep, slightly salty ( the noodles will mellow the salt out) and just a little limey. Guests can squeeze more lime to taste. If you want more heat, add chili flakes or chili paste.
- In a separate pot, boil 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 1-2 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: Steep 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.
- If using store bought laksa, use 2 x 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.
- You can also keep cooked shrimp and chicken on the side- for guests to add to their own individual bowls as they choose. Leftover rotisserie chicken or roasted chicken breast ( lightly shredded) work well here. Even leftover turkey.