Noodlin’ Around: Chicken and Prawn Laksa Lemak

Posted by Dani (@dani_sunario), Melbourne.

Laksa is probably in my top five favourite foods ever. I once challenged my brother on a family trip back to Singapore to eat a bowl of laksa for every main meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) for seven days. He gave up after only two days and I won. My prize? Getting to eat laksa for every meal for seven days. VICTORY.

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Laksa is also my favourite go-to recipe. It looks complicated with it’s ridiculously long ingredient list, but it is actually one of the easiest meals to make! I have most of the dry ingredients on hand in my Asian pantry, so it’s just a matter of buying the fresh ingredients. Make double quantities of the paste and refrigerate it for later use.

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You can use store-bought stock (chicken is best, but vegetable or fish could also work), but you might as well make the delicious prawn stock if you’ve got the shells anyway!

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Heat levels can be adjusted by the number of chillies added to the paste (or ‘rempah’) and stock, but if you make it too hot anyway, you can always add more coconut milk. My brother likes his really coconut-ty (or ‘lemak’) because he is a massive pansy and can’t take the heat. He claims that it’s even more delicious this way (wimp), so it is really up to you! I usually top mine off with a little more sambal chilli at the end because i’m hard like that.

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Whenever i’m homesick, this is definitely the dish I crave. My mother used to make it all the time, and I think i’ve perfected it now to a standard she would be proud of. Well at least I hope so, otherwise it’s no rice for my dinner when I go back home!

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Chicken and Prawn Laksa Lemak
Serves 6

For the paste:
4 shallots, peeled and cut into chunks
2cm knob of ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2cm knob of galangal, peeled
2 cm knob of fresh turmeric
2 tablespoons dried shrimp, rehydrated in warm water
10-15 dried chillies, rehydrated in warm water (reserve some liquid for blending)
3 small fresh chillies, stalks removed
2 stalks lemongrass, white part only
4 kaffir lime leaves, stem removed
4-5 coriander roots, cleaned thoroughly
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
30g belachan (shrimp paste), roasted
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
peanut oil, or other neutral oil for frying

For the stock:
Shells from 500g raw prawns
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2cm knob of ginger, cut into large chunks and bruised
2cm knob of galangal, cut into large chunks and bruised
4 kaffir lime leaves, torn
2 cloves garlic, bruised
2 teaspoons chilli oil
5 dried chillies
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pandan leaf, bruised and tied in a knot
1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised

For dishing up:
500g raw prawns, shells removed and set aside
250g chicken breast, sliced into bite-sized chunks
400g rice vermicelli, rehydrated in lukewarm water
400g Hokkien noodles, separated in lukewarm water
200g tofu puffs (tau pok), or firm tofu, cut into halves
600mL coconut milk
handful of bean shoots
Coriander, fresh sliced chilli, or sambal to serve

For the stock:
Combine prawn shells, peppercorns, ginger, garlic, galangal, dried chilli, chilli oil, and salt in a pot, and fry off in peanut oil until fragrant and prawn shells have changed colour. Add 1.5 litres of water, sauces and lime leaves, and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes until the stock is rich in colour and strong in taste. Strain through a fine sieve before adding to laksa paste.

For the paste:
Combine all ingredients including 2 tablespoons of water from soaking dried chillies in a food processor and whiz until a thick paste is formed.

Fry off the paste in oil until it emulsifies, then separates again.

Brown the chicken in the paste until almost cooked through, then add the prawn stock. Bring to the boil, before adding coconut milk and reducing the heat. Add prawns, tofu puffs and half of the bean shoots, and simmer further until prawns are just cooked through.

Pour soup into bowls over a mix of both noodles and the bean shoots, and garnish with  fresh coriander, chilli or sambal.

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One thought on “Noodlin’ Around: Chicken and Prawn Laksa Lemak

  1. Pingback: Lucky Laksa: Chicken + Prawn Laksa Lemak | a tale of two bougies

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