Leanne Kitchen

We all know (and love) laksa, which originated with the Nonyas in Malaysia. The classic laksa, recreated here, is curry laksa, or laksa lemak, and is coconut milk–based. The celebrated asam laksa, which has no coconut cream, is fish-based with lovely light, sour, herbal flavours. We love asam laksa, but it’s pretty difficult to recreate at home. N, o matter, as this one is a winner too.


Quantity Ingredient
60ml vegetable oil
1.5 litres Chicken stock
2 1/2 teaspoons grated palm sugar
450g chicken thighs with bone and skin, or boneless, skinless chicken thighs, thickly sliced
12 medium raw king prawns, shelled and deveined, tails left intact
500ml coconut milk
12 store-bought fish balls
150g tofu puffs, thickly sliced
200g bean sprouts, plus extra to garnish
500g fresh thin rice noodles

Laksa paste

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon belacan (malaysian shrimp paste)
8 small dried red chillies, soaked in boiling water for 30 minutes, drained
2 tablespoons dried shrimp, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes, drained
5 red asian shallots, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh galangal
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large lemongrass stems, chopped, white part only
6 candlenuts, chopped
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
Fried shallots
vietnamese mint leaves
Chilli sambal, (optional)
lime wedges


  1. For the paste, wrap the belacan in foil. Heat a small, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add the wrapped belacan then dry-fry for 2 minutes on each side, or until fragrant. Cool and unwrap.
  2. Combine the belacan and the remaining paste ingredients in a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the laksa paste in the oil, stirring, for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the stock and sugar. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Add the chicken, return to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes. Add the prawns and cook for 1 minute or until the chicken is cooked through and the prawns are almost cooked. Add the coconut milk, fish balls, tofu puffs and bean sprouts. Stir gently to combine, then bring almost to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 2 minutes or until the prawns are just cooked, the bean sprouts are wilted and the fish balls and tofu are heated through.
  4. Meanwhile, put the noodles in a large bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover and stand for 2 minutes or until heated through. Drain well. Divide the noodles among serving bowls and top with the laksa mixture. Scatter over the fried shallots, mint leaves and extra bean sprouts. Spoon over the chilli sambal, if using, and serve immediately with the lime wedges.
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