So I’ve been on a bit of a roll when it comes to Weekend Cooking posts lately, so here’s yet another one featuring a favourite Singapore dish. Laksa!
It’s a spicy noodle dish with a very rich coconutty gravy, usually topped with bean sprouts, fish cake, spongy tofu, prawns. Sometimes with cockles too.
There is Penang laksa which is more of a sour Assam-based soup. But that’s not really for me.
I want the thick rich broth full of the essence of coconut milk. I want chopped up rice noodles that you can slurp up with a soup spoon. I want the spongy tofu that soaks in all the gravy. I want the fresh prawns. I want laksa!
Of course I have to live in the US where getting laksa isn’t as easy as popping down to the laksa stall down the road. There is a little Singaporean-owned cafe in Milpitas which does, among other Singapore foods, a really spicy laksa, but it is a bit of a drive.
But thanks to packaged pastes, I can easily make laksa at home! These pastes were brought by my parents and in-laws from Singapore as they aren’t all that easy to find in the US. However if you do have an Asian supermarket around (in the SF Bay Area there is 99 Ranch, Marina Foods, Lion), I would recommend checking out the pastes available there. I have seen laksa paste by Asian Home Gourmet here. Apparently Sainsbury’s even has their own laksa paste!
Besides the paste, you’ll need coconut milk.
Fresh prawns would be ideal. Quickly cook them shells and all in some boiling water. The prawn water can be added to the gravy for a richer taste. Frozen prawns work fine too.
Rice noodles. The ones above were brought from Singapore. However I’ve made laksa with dried flat noodles, like the kind used in pad Thai. They just have to be soaked/boiled first.
Other things that go into a laksa:
- Fish cake – which is made of fish paste and corn starch or tapioca starch to hold its shape. Here we have a ‘fish tofu’.
- Fresh bean sprouts!
Then follow the instructions on the paste package!
This usually begins with frying the paste in a little bit of hot oil, then adding water and bringing that to a boil. In the meantime have your noodles ready, either by boiling them (if using the dried noodles) or by rinsing them in water (if using ‘fresh’ noodles). You can cut up the noodles to make slurping easier.
Add the coconut milk to the paste mixture, then the fish cake/fish tofu and the bean sprouts.
Finally, pour the laksa gravy over the rice noodles. Garnish with your cooked prawns.
The best way to eat laksa is with a soup spoon. That’s why there’s the additional step of cutting up the noodles. So that you can scoop up noodles and the rest of the ingredients and most importantly, the spicy, piquant, luxuriously rich laksa gravy in one spoon and slurp it all up.
Thanks for reading all my Singapore-related posts so far! In case you’re interested, here’s what I’ve written in recent weeks:
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