This rich laksa was inspired by my fishing trip with local Brian Lee to Cape Leveque, surely one of the best fishing spots in the world.
- 20 ml vegetable oil
- 300 ml water
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- juice of ½ lime
- 800 g snapper fillet
- 1 tbsp sea salt, or to taste
- 15 g clarified butter
- 15 g unsalted butter
- 400 g cooked rice vermicelli
- Small handful of crispy shallots, to garnish
- 20 g blachan sambal, to serve (see Note)
- 2 large red chillies
- 1 tsp shrimp paste
- 50 g small round shallots, peeled
- 1 tsp finely chopped galangal or ginger
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 lemongrass stalks
- 25 g macadamia nuts
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
For the paste, roughly chop the lemongrass then place in a blender with all the other paste ingredients. Puree until smooth.
For the sauce, heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan, then add the paste. Sauté in a frying pan while stirring until caramelised and aromatic, about 7-8 minutes. Add the water, coconut milk, palm sugar and fish sauce then bring to a simmer. Gently cook for 5 minutes then squeeze in the lime juice.
Pan fry the snapper on a medium heat in clarified butter. Season with salt. Leave skin side down until almost cooked through then add the unsalted butter. Flip the fish to finish, then let it rest. With a probe, the internal temperature should read 50°.
Warm the noodles in the sauce, then divide between 4 bowls. Add the fish and top with blachang. Garnish with spring onions and crispy shallots.
• Blachan or blachang sambal is hugely popular in Broome, and I was lucky enough to have local Brian Lee show me how he makes his – although his recipe remains a secret. You can substitute a Malay-style sambal belacan.