The truth is, there’s no single recipe, but versions often include a soup rich with spices and coconut, vermicelli noodles, prawn, chicken, bean sprouts and strips of omelette. It’s served with sambal belacan and sourness from limes.
This is one of the most elusive laksa's in Malaysia. People from Sarawak love it, but it’s almost always made from the authentic pastes purchased in Sarawak and very rarely from scratch. So rarely, in fact, that most can’t even agree on what the ingredients are.
- 1 whole chicken
- 750 g large raw prawns, shelled, tails intact, intestinal tract removed, shells reserved
- 60 ml (¼ cup) neutral oil
- 400 ml coconut cream
- 300 g dried rice vermicelli noodles
- 150 g bean sprouts
- 4 eggs
- pinch of salt
- cucumber, thinly sliced, to serve
- coriander, to serve
- sambal belacan, to serve
- limes wedges, to serve
- 50 g cumin seeds
- 100 g coriander seeds
- 6 star anise
- 8 cloves
- 1 piece nutmeg
- 8 cardamom pods
- 2 cm piece toasted belacan
- 10 red Asian shallots or 4 small red onions, roughly chopped
- 12 garlic cloves, peeled
- 10 cm galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
- 6 long red chillies, roughly chopped
- 6 dried red chillies, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, drained
- 4 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, chopped
- 50 g candlenuts
- 210 g (1½ cups) unsalted roasted peanuts
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.
- Place the chicken in a large saucepan, pour in enough cold water to cover well. Bring to a gentle simmer, skimming any scum that rises to the surface. Simmer for 45 minutes, then remove the chicken, reserving the stock. When cool enough to handle, shred and reserve the meat from the chicken and return the bones to the stock along with the reserved prawn shells. Simmer for about 1 hour, then strain and discard the solids. Return the stock to a clean pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the prawns and poach for about 2 minutes or until just cooked. Remove the prawns and set aside until ready to serve.
- Meanwhile, toast the dry spices in a large dry frying pan over medium heat until fragrant. Transfer to a spice grinder and blitz into a fine powder.
- For the rempah, place all the ingredients into a blender or food processor and blitz into a smooth paste, adding a little water if needed.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add about 2 cups of the rempah. Fry for 20 minutes or until very fragrant and the oil has separated from the paste. Stir in the ground spices until well combined. Add 1.5 litres of the stock, bring to a simmer, then simmer for about 5 minutes. If you like you can strain the stock before adding to remove any particles. Add the coconut cream and bring to a simmer again. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
- Place the noodles in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Stand for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside. Blanche the bean sprouts in the boiling water for 30 seconds and set aside.
- For the omelette, beat the eggs very well and add a pinch of salt. Heat a large non – stick frying pan over medium heat, then lightly grease. Pour just enough egg into the pan to coat the base, tilting the pan as you go. Cook until just set, then remove and repeat with the remaining egg mixture, stacking the egg sheets on top of each other as you go. Roll up the sheets into a cylinder, then slice into thins strips.
- To assemble the laksa, place the noodles into a serving bowl and ladle over the laksa soup. Top with the chicken, prawns, cucumber, egg strips and coriander. Serve with sambal belacan and lime wedges.
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