Laksa

bowl of gluten free malaysian style laksa noodle soup

this version of laksa is one of my favourite noodle soups in the world. my day is instantly better with a bowl of this laksa in front of my face. it’s like a hug for your soul, and belly! traditionally made with fish stock, some versions can be quite fishy. I tried to find a balance of just the right amount of fishiness (from the shrimp paste) with just enough spice, tang, and richness. once you have this laksa, you won’t be able to live without it. I definitely wouldn’t want to. even if we are just 2 people, I usually make the full batch since you can freeze the leftover broth for a quick meal!

Notes:
*chile jam is often used as an ingredient for simple stir fries (we highly recommend getting some). just toss a heaping tablespoon in with some of your favourite veggies and you’ve got a delicious stir fry. it is often labelled as ‘chili paste with soya bean oil’ in the canned/sauce section of your asian grocery store.

**if you can’t find shrimp paste, substitute with 3 tbsps. of fish sauce (add it with the stock instead of frying)

***if you can’t find tom yum paste, substitute with 1 1/2 tbsps. of red curry paste and add juice of another 1/2 lime

Serves 4-6

Ingredients (Broth)

1 (400g) pack of rice vermicelli or pho noodles
1 shallot, sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 inch ginger, sliced thinly
1 tbsp. canola oil
1/4 cup coconut cream
3 tbsps. shrimp paste
1 1/2 tbsps. chile jam*
1 1/2 tbsps. tom yum paste
2 tsps. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 (14 oz. or 400 mL) cans coconut milk (we recommend aroy-d since they don’t use additives)
1 L chicken or fish stock
2 kaffir lime leaves
juice of 1/2 lime, the other 1/2 cut in wedges for garnish

Additions:

fish balls, blanched
broccoli or chinese broccoli (gai lan), blanched
bean sprouts, raw
julienned carrots, raw
fried tofu puffs
shrimp, deshelled and deveined
cilantro + green onions (weed), chopped
fried shallots (store bought)
fried garlic (store bought)

Instructions

Before doing anything else, soak your rice noodles in cool water for at least 30 minutes. Let them hang out while you get everything else ready. Set a timer.

In a mortar and pestle or small blender, break down shallots, garlic, and ginger into a paste.

Heat a large pot to medium-high heat. Add canola oil and coconut cream and heat until it is slightly bubbling. Add the aromatic paste, shrimp paste, chile jam and tom yum paste. Fry until fragrant.

Add sugar, salt, coconut milk, stock, and lime leaves. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and finish with the juice of 1/2 a lime.

Heat a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. When your rice noodles have soaked for 30 minutes or more, place them in a mesh strainer and dunk them into the boiling water. Test for doneness after 30-45 seconds. The noodles should be soft but chewy. Run noodles under cold water to stop the cooking process. Drizzle oil onto noodles to make sure they do not clump into a ball. Portion into noodle soup bowls.

Prepare the rest of your additions. Blanch fish balls and broccoli in salted boiling water. Wash bean sprouts. Wash and julienne carrots. Toss tofu puffs into the simmering laksa broth to absorb as much flavour as possible. Chop weed (I swear this is a kitchen term). Throw shrimp into the broth and cook for just a minute.

With your noodles already in bowls, add all the additional ingredients that you have. Ladle hot laksa into the bowl, garnish with herbs, fried shallots, and fried garlic. Consume!