2 tbsp vegetable oil
400ml (13.5 fl oz) can coconut cream
12 fried tofu puffs, halved
4 tbsp fish sauce, plus extra to taste
1 tsp caster sugar
200g (7 oz) dried rice vermicelli noodles
sambal oelek, lime wedges, finely chopped coriander (cilantro) and bean sprouts to serve
600g (1.3 lb) whole, unpeeled, raw prawns
3 tbsp vegetable oil
8 cups chicken stock
2 pieces bone-in chicken thigh
8 large dried red chillies
1 tbsp dried shrimp
1 tbsp chopped fresh galangal
1 tbsp chopped ginger
1 lemongrass stalk, pale part bruised, finely chopped
4 Asian red shallots, roughly chopped
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 coriander (cilantro) roots, roughly chopped
5 candlenuts or macadamia nuts
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp turmeric
1½ tsp shrimp paste
To make the prawn stock, peel the prawns, reserving the heads and shells. Keep the prawn meat for later. Heat the 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Add the prawn heads and shells and cook for 10 minutes or until the shells are a deep red colour. Squish the shells and heads with the back of your spoon.
Add the chicken stock and the chicken thigh pieces bring back to a simmer. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim the foam from the surface of the stock as it simmers (try to just catch the foam and not the red oil). Then strain and discard the solids.
To make the laksa paste, soak the dried chillies and the dried shrimp in hot water for 10-15 minutes or until softened. Remove the chillies and dried shrimp from the water (it doesn’t matter if you don’t drain them completely as some water is fine). Reserve the chilli soaking water. Roughly chop the chillies and then place them into the bowl of a food processor along with the dried shrimp. Then add the remaining ingredients along with a large pinch salt. Blend until smooth, adding some of the chilli soaking water a tablespoon at a time if the ingredients aren’t blending smoothly.
Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add half the laksa paste* and cook, stirring for about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and stir. Then stir in the prawn stock you made earlier along with the fish sauce, sugar and a pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir through the tofu puffs and fish balls and cook for 10 minutes. Then add the prawns and simmer until just cooked. Taste and season the broth with extra fish sauce to taste.
Cook the rice noodles in boiling water until softened but still a little firm in the centre. Drain and divide among serving bowls.
Ladle the laksa over the noodles. And serve with sambal oelek, lime wedges, a sprinkle of coriander and bean sprouts.
– This recipe makes more laksa paste than you need. You can freeze the other half of the paste for up to 2 months. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight before using.