Laksa, a very popular dish in South East Asia and am pretty certain in other parts of the world, is essentially a coconut curry soup with noodles often with chicken or shrimp, bean curd puffs, fish sticks and sometimes bean sprouts for extra crunch! The flavor is amazing and complex – a little sweet, tangy, savory, creamy and definitely spicy-licious from all the wonderful spices added to it. It’s the kind of food that hubby and I love – multi-dimensional in taste and truly satisfying.
I cannot remember exactly when I tasted this truly flavorful soup. It was definitely more than 10 years ago as the last time I distinctly remember eating this was when my aunt in Australia brought us to a noodle house in Sydney just so we can taste it. This was in January 2004, the night before we left Australia during our honeymoon there. We could have possibly had it first in Singapore, so very well-known for its fantastic Laksa soup, when we had a brief stop there en-route to Australia. Either way, our taste of this exquisite soup was truly memorable. Shame though that I never made this soup soon after and had to wait a decade to attempt it.
I honestly thought that because of it’s complexity in taste that it would be super-difficult to make. Actually, it’s not. All that’s needed is to make a curry paste and then add some coconut milk and then your choice of meat, cooked noodles and a few garnish and that’s it. You can even make a short-cut by buying pre-made Laksa paste or powder or use your favorite curry powder, too. However, I didn’t want to cheat and thought I’ll try to make it from scratch, after all most of the ingredients are not impossible to find – they were all in our grocery and all I needed was a good and reliable food processor and voila – I have a homemade and truly delicious curry paste for Laksa. Anyway, hope you try this flavorful coconut curry soup and enjoy it as much as we did. <3
3 cloves Garlic, peeled
2 Tablespoons freshly grated Ginger
1-2 fresh Thai (Bird’s Eye) red Chillies*
1 stalk Lemon Grass, finely chopped*
20 pieces Cashew Nuts or Almonds
1 1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons ground Turmeric
1 teaspoon ground Cumin or Coriander
2 Tablespoons, Fish sauce
Juice of 1-2 large Lime*
*Adjust the heat to the level you can tolerate.
*Before using, slice off the very bottom of the stalk and peel off any dried layers then chop thinly.
*You can initially just use the juice from 1 lime and add some more later, if you wish.
Grind all ingredients in a food processor or mortar and pestle until you achieve a smooth paste. Set aside.
For the Soup
2 Tablespoons Oil
2 Cans Coconut Milk
4 pieces Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless and cut into bite-size chunks
1 Can (use coconut milk can for measurement) of Chicken broth
Salt, to taste
12-14 oz Rice noodles, cooked (softened)
1 pack Bean Sprouts
Fried Tofu (Bean curd), optional
A handful of chopped Cilantro (Coriander) leaves
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the paste, lower the heat and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes or until aromatic. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Simmer on low and then add the chicken pieces and the chicken broth. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and tender.
Adjust the seasoning by adding salt, extra fish sauce, even a little sugar and some more lime juice for extra tang. 🙂 Remember that you want it really flavorful as the noodles will soak in all that flavor.
To serve, place the rice noodles into individual bowls and ladle the soup into each bowl. Top with bean sprouts, tofu and garnish with some cilantro. Serve immediately.
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