Anthony Bourdain introduced me to Laksa, a spicy noodle soup popular in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. I mean he didn’t do it personally (although I would have really liked that) but I learned about laksa through his show No Reservations. He described laksa with that quintessential Bourdainian flair, “It’s a classic “hurt so good” experience, requiring only a spoon — and a towel to mop the sweat from your face. For some time, I sat alone enjoying the sweet, relative coolness of the coconut milk against the sting of the chilies, with hearty bass notes of seafood and shrimp paste, while happily watching the morning commuters and fellow devotees slurping their breakfasts around me. Pure pleasure at around USD$2.” Yes Mr. Bourdain, you make me want to go there. Singapore is definitely on my bucket list to visit but until then I thought why not learn how to make it myself.
I did some research on laksa and learned a few things. There are many different kinds of laksa depending on the region but in essence it consists of rice noodles with seafood and or chicken in a spicy, fragrant broth made from either coconut milk and curry, a sour asam style made from tamarind or a combination of both. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner — anytime all day long. I also learned that the most important element in any laksa is the broth. The video above with Australian Master Chef Winner Adam Liaw does a really good job explaining Laksa and the four elements that goes into making a good one: the base, the broth, what goes into the soup and what goes on top of it. I blended his recipe with Christopher Kimball’s laksa recipe over at Milk Street Kitchen (I highly recommend subscribing to his website - the recipes are fantastic!). The major differences are Kimball makes his laksa base with store bought red curry paste and adds it to the roasted shrimp shells to make the stock. He then adds a 1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken thighs to the broth after it’s been strained. I included the recipe for the laksa base below and be sure to take a look at the gallery which features a step-by-step photo tutorial. Lastly, you can garnish your Laksa with all kinds of things but I opted for soft-boiled egg, laksa leaves, chili-garlic sauce, cilantro, green onions, bean sprouts and lime wedges. It was delicious! Also, I found many of the ingredients for this recipe at the Tai Nam Market on Argyle.
6 shallots, peeled and quartered
6 garlic cloves peeled
3 tablespoons thai red curry paste
2 lemon grass stalks, bottom parts, trimmed and chopped
2 inch piece of peeled ginger sliced
2 teaspoons tumeric
1 bunch cilantro stems chopped (save the leaves for garnish)
Directions: Place in a food processor and and process until finely chopped, about 30 seconds.
Step-by-Step Gallery. Turn to landscape if viewing on your mobile to see instructions.