There used to be a food hall on Wellesley (?) street in Auckland that introduced me to Malaysian food the way it was supposed to be. It was there that I first tried curry laksa, and it was years until I could make a passable version.
The secret? Chicken stock.
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make the base of the laksa. Most all can be bought off the shelf at supermarkets or Asian food marts. The only other thing you’ll need is a meat, but that meat can be tofu! And you can easily use vegetable stock instead of chicken. Just make sure you add a little butter or extra olive oil to make it ‘full-bodied’ enough.
As shown here on the right, you’ll also need noodles. Try to buy egg noodles, they seem to hold together best when you’re cooking.
This recipe is fairly hard to get wrong. The main thing to avoid is over-cooking the meat, or using bad ingredients. Don’t use chicken breast for example, it dries out in the soup and becomes awful.
You’ll notice from the picture to the right that I’ve opted for egg as the ‘meat’ in this dish. But!! Not just any egg.
Look at the size of the thing! On left is a hen’s egg, and the white one I’m simmering for 15 minutes is a salted gooses egg!! I couldn’t believe it when I found them at the Waitangi Park markets. Bless those crazy market gardeners.
While the egg is simmering I put the laska sauce together. I usually put in about a tablespoon of oil, and about a half tablespoon of curry paste per person. Some people go for powder, but I like paste. You can use red, green whatever. Just get it in the pot and heat it.
While it’s heating up add about a half-tablespoon of decent fish sauce, per person (or none, if you’re a vegetarian). If you’re using chicken thighs, then add at this stage. Then heat the whole mixture until it looks like it’s about to burn. By the time the paste is very hot the chicken is cooked enough. It will cook further while the laksa heats up, and still remain juicy.
Immediately add your stock, and your coconut cream. Go for a low-fat version if you’re concerned about the waistline/heart, or for coconut milk if you’re wanting a thinner laksa. I like my nice and full. Stir, bring to a high simmer, but not a boil, and you’re away.
Then prepare your vegetables.
Slice a capsicum in half, and remove the seeds and tops with your hands. Then slice broadly. Again, cut this any way you like. I prefer the long slices because it looks better in the final dish.
You’ll add these to your sauce later on.
The next thing to do is put the egg noodles into boiling water, a cook till just tender. Don’t over cook them, or they’ll disintegrate in the laksa when you build it.
Ladle out the noodles into a bowl, then cover with some bok choy. The bok choy has been soaking in water, as shown in the first photo above, then rinsed clean (boy choy tends to collect a lot of clay and insects in the base of the plant.)
Once you’ve covered the noodles with bok choy then you’re all set to finish putting the laksa together.
Sometimes I delay the assembly bit until the laksa has reduced and thickened a little, but that isn’t essential.
If your laksa sauce is where you want it, then add the next ingredients.
I just add the capsicum, then add my next favourite ingredient, frozen shrimp! This explains the fish stock I used earlier. It’s important to not cook frozen, or any, shrimp or prawns too long. They become very very dry, and loose any semblance of flavour.
If you’re using tofu, fried or otherwise, this is the time to add it.
While the shrimps and capsicum are heating through, peel the goose egg, cut in half, and place in the bowl, as above. Then begin ladling the soup in!
This is pretty straightforward. I usually ladle out the good stuff first, then share out the sauce.
And there you have it! I sprinkle some fried shallots on the top as a garnish, and end up with one (or more) extremely delicious curry laksa!