There may be hundreds of Chinese recipes which call for shrimp, but one of the very popular Chinese shrimp recipes is the laksa. Laksa is a spicy shrimp noodle soup, which is cooked with a special type of curry paste called the laksa curry paste.
The laksa paste can be easily found in Asian grocery stores, but you can also make the healthier version of it right at your home. In that way you will be able to control its spiciness. But other than being a little spicy, laksa is a very hearty dish which smells wonderfully of the curry paste and the coconut milk imparts a sweet and subtle taste to the dish. So, make sure you try this authentic laksa recipe.
Difficulty level: Easy
Servings per recipe: 4
Preparation time required: 30-40 minutes
Cooking time required: 20-30 minutes
3 large pots
1 stirring spoon
1 sharp knife
1 pestle and mortar
1/4th lb. of vermicelli (uncooked)
4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
8 fish cakes, cut into small pieces
A handful of bean sprouts
1/4th lb. of egg noodles (uncooked)
16 shrimps, peeled and deveined
Handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves
Spring onions, chopped
For The Laksa Curry Paste
1 tablespoon of dried shrimps
6-7 cloves of garlic, peeled
1-2 red chilies, deseeded and chopped
3 stalks of lemon grass, chopped
1 teaspoon of oil
6 tablespoons of water
½ teaspoon of white granulated sugar
5-6 shallots, halved
3 tablespoons of tamarind paste
1-inch ginger, peeled and chopped
For The Broth
3/4th cup of unsweetened coconut milk
125 grams of curry paste
3 stalks of lemon grass, chopped
2 cups of water
12 tofu puffs, halved
2 cups + 1/4th cup of low sodium shrimp stock
4 tablespoons of cooking oil
A dash of fish sauce
½ cup of evaporated milk
6 kaffir lime leaves
Salt, to taste
Method Of Cooking
1. Take the shrimps in a colander and rinse them thoroughly under water. Once done, shake the colander to drain away all the water and then transfer the shrimps to your chopping board. Then carefully snap off the heads from all the shrimps. Next, peel the shrimps and devein them by pulling off the black veins from their back side. Once done, put the shrimps in a bowl and set them aside.
2. Next, chop the shallots, garlic cloves and the ginger as stated above to prepare the curry paste. Take the stalks of lemon grass and chop only the white parts. Once everything is done, put the dried shrimps in a mortar and pound them with a pestle.
Pound the shrimps until you get a fine paste and then add the chopped shallots, ginger, garlic cloves and the lemon grass to the shrimp paste. Pound all these things for 10-15 minutes or until you get a fine grain-free paste. Next, add-in the red chilies and the sugar and pound them to mix them with the paste. Finally, add in the tamarind paste and the oil. Pound the paste once again until everything is nicely incorporated.
3. Now transfer the paste to a bowl and add the water to it. Stir the paste with the water to liquefy it. Once done, set aside the paste for later use. Next, take a large pot and add 3 cups of water to it. Add ½ teaspoon of salt to the water and then place the pot on the stove.
Turn the knob to set the flame on high and let the water come to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, take two more pots and fill them halfway up with water. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of oil into each pot and then place them on two separate hobs. Light up the flame and set on medium high.
4. Once the water in the 1st pot starts boiling, add the shrimp peels to it to make the shrimp stock. Then add the egg noodles in one of the pot of boiling water and the vermicelli noodles in the other pot.
Cook the noodles al dente. While the noodles are cooking, place a skillet on another hob and put 2-3 tablespoons of cooking oil in it. Wait for the oil to heat up. While the oil is heating up, separate out the shrimp peels from the shrimp stock by straining the stock through a strainer.
5. Once the oil in the skillet starts smoking, add 125 grams of the prepared curry paste to it. Stir the paste and sauté it for 4-5 minutes or until it turns aromatic. Once the paste is sautéed, add 2 cups plus 1/4th cup of the prepared shrimp stock to it.
Stir the mixture to dissolve the paste in the stock and then add 2 cups of water, the tofu puffs, lemon grass and the kaffir lime leaves. Once added, give the mixture a brief stir and then turn up the flame to set it on high. Bring the broth to a boil and then lower the heat to set it on medium low.
6. Simmer the broth for 2-3 minutes more and then add-in the evaporated milk, fish sauce, salt and the coconut milk. Stir the mixture to combine the milk and then simmer it for 2-3 minutes. Once the vermicelli noodles and the egg noodles are cooked, drain the water from them with the help of a colander and then keep them aside.
1. You can also prepare the paste in a blender. For that, put all the required vegetables and the dry shrimps in a blender and then blend them with some water. But preparing the paste in a mortar imparts a very good and rustic taste to it.
2. You can also fry the shrimp heads in oil before sautéing the curry paste because shrimp heads are full of flavors and they also add a wonderful taste to the dish.
7. Finally, to assemble the bowls of laksa, put some of the vermicelli and egg noodles in one bowl and then top the noodles with the fish cakes, 3-4 shrimps, bean sprouts and the egg quarters. Then pour the laksa broth and add the tofu puffs. Garnish the laksa with 1 teaspoon of chopped spring onions and the coriander leaves on top to finish. Repeat the same process to assemble all the bowls and then serve warm.