I make a damn fine laksa. Which is saying a lot seeing as I’m really
not that great pretty rubbish at cooking Malaysian food. But with this laksa though, there’s never leftovers. In fact, I’m willing to stake that it’s better than most Malaysian restaurants here in Australia. In fact, it’s so fine that when a Malaysian friend came to visit, on his last night here in Australia I asked him what he wanted me to cook, and I named all the things – steak with dauphinois potatoes, chorizo pasta, roast beef, and he said… you guessed it, curry laksa.
The only thing it’s not better than is side-of-the-road, questionable cleanliness food stall. But then again, some of the best food in the world is found in those kind of establishments.
I’m going to share with you all my secrets. And I promise you that it’s easier than you think.
See, here’s the thing, because I’m Malaysian everyone assumes that I make my laksa paste from scratch. Really, the key is to make it sound like curry laksa is a big deal.
“Come over on Wednesday, I’m going to make you proper Malaysian curry laksa.”
“Yeah, the laksa’s been on the stove for a while.”
Or something else along those lines.
But really, it’s taken all of fifteen minutes.
Here’s the thing. I’ve made laksa from scratch. I’ve even watched Emily in her Top 50 MasterChef audition make it from scratch in under an hour. Making laksa from scratch is an expensive business. Lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal are all cheap and plentiful in Malaysia, but not so much here. Emily’s laksa has over 30 ingredients. By the time you’ve bought everything to make just the laksa paste, you’re looking at $20 minimum. And that’s not even including the stuff that goes into the laksa. Plus, you’re suddenly going to have a bunch of candlenuts in the fridge that you’re probably never going to use again.
So, here’s my secret. And no, this is not a sponsored post, this is me sharing with you from my gourmand’s cheat sheet. Shhh.
A packet costs $3.50 and serves four. The packet says up to six, but really, if you factor in seconds, there’s just enough for four. It’s pretty good right out of the packet, but if you add a couple of extra aromatics it becomes something special to share with friends.
Secret #2 – to make the curry laksa great, you’ll need to add a couple of kaffir lime leaves and curry leaves if you have them on hand. And as for what to put in it – that’s entirely up to you. I like to use hokkien noodles, tofu puffs, snake beans, grilled eggplant, egg, shredded chicken, bean sprouts and fried shallots (pre-bought from the Asian store).
Secret #3 – you can use prawns too if you like. If you’ve got them, reserve the shells and use them to flavour the stock. Peel and clean the prawns and set aside, then boil the shells in 1.5L of water for ten minutes. Strain out the shells and use the stock to replace the water in the recipe below.
The paste does contain dried shrimps so it’s not strictly vegetarian friendly, but it is ok if you’re flexitarian – most of my friends are on the flexi-side of vegetarian anyway. It’s pretty close to perfect heat for me, but you want more chilli, add some bottle sambal oelek, if it’s too spicy for you as it is, add more coconut milk.
That’s it. No food styling. No table mats. Just real honest food.
Just remember to talk about it as if you slaved away in the kitchen.
- 1 packet Tean's Gourmet curry laksa paste
- 1.5L water
- 150-400ml coconut milk (I use 150 but you can use to 400mo for a creamier laksa)
- 2-3 kaffir lime leaves, scored
- 100g tofu puffs, cut in half
- 10 curry leaves (optional)
- 1 small chicken breast
- 10-12 prawns (optional)
- 600g hokkien noodles, or vermicelli
- 1 large eggplant, thinly sliced
- handful of snake beans, cut into 1" lengths
- 2 eggs
- 1 packet bean sprouts
- fried shallots
- fresh coriander, for garnish
- To make the curry laksa, put the water into a pot over low heat and empty the contents of the laksa packet into it. Add the kaffir lime leaves, tofu puffs and curry leaves, if using.
- Cut the chicken breast in half, add to the laksa and cook for ten minutes on a gentle simmer or until cooked through.
- Remove chicken, allow to cool then shred and set aside.
- In another pot, cook the eggs by boiling them for 5 minutes. Remove the eggs, then blanch the snake beans in the same water. Remove the snake beans, then add the hokkien noodles and blanch briefly for 45 seconds.
- Fry the eggplant in a pan over medium heat until browned and cooked through - it's up to you whether or not you use oil. Set aside.
- Add coconut milk to the laksa and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Place all the fixings on the table and let everyone assemble their own dinner.
If you want more chilli, add some sambal oelek (from a bottle), if it's too spicy for you as it is, add more coconut milk. Hawker style laksas in Malaysia tend towards more spicy, while in Australia laksas tend to be more creamy - add more coconut milk if you prefer a creamy style laksa.