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Friday, February 11, 2011

Malaysian Prawn Laksa

I saw this recipe in one of my cookbooks (70 Fabulous First Courses, by Christine Ingram) some time ago and remembered it this afternoon as I shopped for groceries.  I had a long week and the weather is perfect for a nice bowl of soup so here you go...

Disclaimer:  Since I couldn't remember all ingredients while shopping and also would not have being able to get all of them anyway (too exotic for the local Winn-Dixie), this is my variation.  I don't claim this soup tastes anything like the real thing.  I can only imagine all the amazing flavors from fresh spices and herbs!

However, my humble version is delicious and filling!  Even S. liked it -- and he does not like soups or any curry-based dishes.

My Version of Malaysian Prawn Laksa (see original recipe below)
  • 2 oz thin spaghetti
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (or use chicken if you don't like seafood)
  • Salt and ground red pepper to taste
  • Parsley, finely chopped
  1. Cook spaghetti as usual but don't drain.
  2. Heat the oil in deep skillet (it will splatter so be ready!), add curry paste, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly , for a few moments. 
  3. Add the fish sauce and shrimp and cook until shrimp is lighly pink but still plump and slighty undercooked (don't overcook or it will be dry; it will finish cooking while soup is simmering!).
  4. Add curried shrimp coconut milk to spaghetti.
  5. Bring to boil.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer for about five minutes.
  7. Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.
Original Recipe
  • 4 oz rice vermicelli
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 1/2 cups fish stock
  • 1 2/3 cups thin coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1/2 lime
  • 16-24 cooked and peeled prawns (large shrimp)
  • salt and cayenne pepper
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
For the spicy paste:
  • 2 lemon grass stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 tsp dried shrimp paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  1. Cook rice vermicelli in a large pan of lightly salted boiling water.
  2. Drain and rinse.  Set aside and keep warm.
  3. To make the spicy paste, place the lemon grass, chillies, ginger, shrimp paste, garlic, turmeric, and tamarind paste in a mortar, then pound with a pestle until smooth.  According to the book, you can also use food processor or blender to process until a smooth paste is formed.
  4. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the spicy paste, and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, for a few moments -- to release all the flavors, but be careful not to burn.
  5. Add the fish stock and coconut milk, then bring mixture to the boil.
  6. Stir in the Thai fish sauce, then simmer for 5 minutes.
  7. Season with salt and cayenne to taste, adding a squeeze of lime juice.
  8. Add the prawns and heat through gently for a few seconds.
  9. Divide the noodles among three or four bowls.
  10. Pour the soup over, making sure that each portion includes an equal number of prawns.
  11. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve piping hot.

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