What do you consider as comfort food? Must it be rich in flavour? Must it be hot and soupy? Well, whatever it is you are looking for, I bet this dish I am sharing with you in this article will tick off all the boxes in your list.
But first, I have to ask you this one question, have you ever tried a bowl of authentic Nyonya Laksa before?
A Bowlful of Flavours
Laksa actually refers to a type of rice noodle that is normally eaten with a spicy seafood broth and fresh vegetables in Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.
The richness of flavours in a bowl of laksa differs according to country. Some taste more umami than the others. Some taste creamier while others just spicy!
However, the laksa recipe that I am going to share with you, in my personal opinion, combines the best flavours of the other variations of laksa available out there all in one bowl. Don’t believe me? Let the laksa speaks for itself then.
- 10 (100g) fresh red chillies
- 10 (20g) dried chilli
- 2 teaspoons of shrimp paste
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
- 6 tablespoons of cooking oil
- 2 calamansi, cut into half
b) Spice Paste
- 10 shallots, peeled and slice
- 30g turmeric, peeled and sliced
- 60g galangal, peeled and sliced
- 8 (100g) lemongrass, sliced
- 20 dried chillies, soaked until softened
- 10 (60g) candlenuts
- 4 teaspoons of shrimp paste
c) Laksa Broth
- 1/2 cup cooking oil
- 500g prawns, removed head and shell
- Head and shell of prawns (for stock)
- 1 whole chicken
- 2 cups of coconut milk
- 4 kaffir lime leaves
- 20 pieces tofu puffs, washed and dipped in hot water briefly to remove oil
- 3 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of chicken bouillon (optional)
- 2 liters of water
- 200g cooked egg noodles
- 200g cooked vermicelli
- 200g of beansprouts, blanched
- 1 cucumber, julienned
- 10 okras, cut into half
- 5 small eggplants, cut into 6 pieces
- 3 large fishcakes, boiled and sliced
- 10 fishballs
- 20 quail eggs, hard boiled
- 1 medium-sized fresh brown cuttlefish
- 1 bunch polugonum leaves (daun kesum), finely sliced
- 1 torch ginger flower (bunga kantan), finely sliced
- Using an electric blender, grind the fresh red chillies, dried chillies, and shrimp paste til smooth.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan on medium heat. Saute the chilli paste until fragrant, stirring continuously.
- Add salt and sugar to taste. Set aside to serve with finished laksa.
b) Spice Paste
- Using an electric blender, pulse shallots, turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, dried chillies, candlenuts, and shrimp paste until a smooth paste is formed. Add 3 tablespoons of water if necessary. Set aside.
c) Laksa Broth
- In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat 1/2 cup cooking oil.
Fry the prawn shells and heads you have set aside earlier when cleaning the prawns. Fry till fragrant and turn orange red.
- Boil 2 liters of water in a big pot. Put in the cooked prawn heads and shells.
- Add in the whole chicken and let the broth simmer at medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Pour broth through a sieve to remove the prawn heads and shells.
- Set aside the whole chicken.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a separate pot on medium heat. Add in the spice paste you have prepared earlier. Fry until fragrant. Add in the stock and bring it to a boil.
- Add in the coconut milk and bring the broth to a quick boil around 2-3 minutes.
- Add in salt, chicken bouillon and palm sugar to taste. Lower the flame and let the broth simmer.
- Add in the cut eggplants, tofu puffs, fishcakes and fish balls. Bring to a quick boil, stirring continuously. Turn off heat once broth comes to a boil.
- Dipped prawn meat and cuttlefish into hot boiling water for a few seconds.
- Remove the cuttlefish skin and slice the flesh. Set aside.
- Blanch the okras and beansprouts for a few seconds. Set aside.
- Blanch the noodles and vermicelli in the same pot of boiling water for a 1-2 minutes. Take them out and drain them using a colander. Place some noodles and vermicelli into a bowl.
- Put some tofu puffs, chunks of eggplant, and sliced fishcakes into the bowl. Ladle hot laksa broth over the meats.
- Top it with some prawns, quail eggs, sliced cuttlefish, daun kesum and torch ginger flower.
- Want a little ‘kick’ to your laksa? Enjoy it with some sambal paste and cut lime.