Saturday, 19 May 2012

Laksa Lemak

This is a slightly vegetable-fortified version of a very seafood-heavy Singaporean soup from my humungous Asian cooking compendium. The whole house now smells of prawns but it was worth it :)


  • 10 raw prawns (or more if you're hungry)
  • a large handful of rice vermicelli
  • 1 tsp dried shrimp paste (don't inhale, lol)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and cut into big pieces
  • 1 tsp galangal powder
  • 6 candlenuts
  • 1 stem lemongrass
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • a 200g chunk of pumpkin, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 200ml of coconut milk (or thereabouts)
  • a large handful of frozen peas
  • one lime
  • fried tofu, cooked crab or fish cakes (add if you're very hungry)
  • a quarter of a cucumber
  • a small bag of beansprouts

Peel and devein the prawns; reserve the flesh in the fridge and put the heads and shells in a stockpot. Cover with at least 300ml of boiling water and boil for 30 minutes, to produce a rich prawn stock. Drain and discard the heads and shells. Soak the rice vermicelli in hot water for 10 minutes, then drain.

In a food processor, blend the shrimp paste, onion, galangal powder, candlenuts and lemongrass, then fry for 7-8 minutes, turning frequently, until the mixture has darkened and reduced a little. Add the prawn stock and simmer for twenty minutes, then add the pumpkin and cook for a further five -- or until the pumpkin is almost done. Stir in the coconut milk, frozen peas, cooked vermicelli and add the raw prawns. Bring up to a simmer and cook for a few minutes; turn off the heat as soon as the prawns are cooked. Juice in half of the lime, and cut the other half into wedges.

Slice the cucumber thinly and add to the bean sprouts in a separate bowl; add the lime wedges to decorate. Serve the soup in deep bowls, topped with the extra protein if you're very hungry. Take handfuls of salad and top the soup, add a splash of lime juice and soy sauce and eat the salad with the soup. Yum!

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