Around the world in 80 dishes No.24: Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur curry laksa, by Rick Stein

Ingredients to serve 4

For the soup:

250g raw unpeeled prawns

Vegetable oil, for shallow and deep-frying

200g firm tofu

400ml coconut milk

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoons light brown muscovado sugar

100g dried rice vermicelli noodles

200g fresh egg noodles

100g cooked flaked chicken

100g beansprouts

100g cooked fine green beans

2 hardboiled eggs, thickly sliced

3 spring onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

A handful of mixed mint and coriander leaves

For the laksa spice paste:

3 dried red kashmiri chillies, de-seeded

2 fresh red chillies, deseeded and chopped

20g nuts (macadamia, peanuts or cashews)

2 stalks lemongrass, core chopped

3 fat garlic cloves

3cm piece peeled ginger, roughly chopped

1 tsp turmeric powder

75g shallots, roughly chopped

2 tsp blachan (shrimp paste)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Sambal oelek, to serve


Peel the prawns, reserving the heads and shells. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, add the heads and shells and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until crisp and golden. Add 1.2 litres of water, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 1 hour until reduced to 750ml.

Heat some oil for deep-frying to 190C. Cut the tofu into 2.4x1cm pieces and drain well on kitchen paper. Deep-fry for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Drain on plenty of kitchen paper and set aside.

Strain the prawn stock, and set aside.

For the laksa spice paste, put the dried chillies into a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave for 20 minutes. Drain and blend to a smooth paste with remaining ingredients in a food processor.

Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large pan, and fry the spice paste gently for 2-3 minutes. Add the prawn stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar and one-and-a-half teaspoons of salt, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Drop the rice noodles into boiling water and leave to soak for 2 minutes, then drain. Drop the egg noodles into the same water and leave to heat through for a few seconds. Add the prawns and chicken to the curry soup and simmer for 1 minute. Add the mint and coriander.

Divide the noodles between 4 warmed, deep noodle bowls and top with the bean sprouts, cooked green beans and fried tofu. Ladle over the curry soup. Top each one with some slices of hardboiled egg and spring onions and serve with a spoonful of sambal oelek.

Rick Stein is an ambassador for Malaysia Kitchen, who are organising a Malaysian night market in Trafalgar Square this Friday, 24 Sept

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