Curry laksa

Curry laksa

Have You Eaten
Billy Law

Curry laksa is a coconut-based curry noodle soup also known in Malaysia as laksa lemak or curry mee. It is sometimes referred to simply as ‘laksa’. This dish is a perfect winter warmer — slurp up the steaming hot noodles along with the rich and spicy coconut curry broth. You haven’t fully enjoyed this dish if there aren’t any beads of perspiration on your forehead and chilli oil splashes on your shirt!


Quantity Ingredient
2 litres water
500g raw prawns, peeled and deveined, tails left on
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
125ml vegetable oil
400ml tinned coconut cream
salt, to taste
200g fried tofu puffs, halved
450g fresh hokkien egg noodles, microwaved in a bowl for 3 minutes to soften
200g packet dried rice vermicelli, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes then drained
200g bean sprouts
3 hard-boiled eggs, halved
100g fish cake, thinly sliced
handful mint leaves
handful vietnamese coriander, (see note)

Laksa paste

Quantity Ingredient
5 cm piece galangal, peeled and chopped
5 cm piece turmeric, peeled and chopped, (or 1 tablespoon ground powder)
250g french shallots, peeled
10 garlic cloves, chopped
20 dried red chillies, seeded then soaked in hot water for 30 minutes to soften, (use less chillies if you don’t like it too hot)
6 large fresh red chillies, seeded and chopped
10 candlenuts, roasted, (see note)
50g dried shrimp, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes then drained
2 tablespoons belachan, toasted
2 lemongrass stalks, chopped, white part only


  1. Pour the water into a large stockpot and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer, add the chicken and let it cook in the hot water for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken, set aside to cool, then shred the chicken into small pieces.
  2. Add the prawn heads to the pot and bring to the boil again. Reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer for 30 minutes. Scoop out the heads and discard them.
  3. Meanwhile, put all the laksa paste ingredients in a food processor, and process to a fine paste.
  4. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat and fry the laksa paste for about 15–20 minutes. The paste should be dark brown and a layer of red oil will separate from the spices. Reserve a few tablespoons for serving later.
  5. Add the cooked laksa paste to the stock, stirring to mix well. Pour in the coconut cream and bring to the boil. Season with salt, add the fried tofu puffs, then lower the heat and let the soup simmer until ready to serve.
  6. Half fill another large pot with water and bring to the boil. For each serve, grab a handful each of hokkien noodles and rice vermicelli, and a few prawns. Put them into a wire mesh strainer or a sieve and dunk the noodles and prawns into the hot water for 1 minute. Add a handful of bean sprouts to the strainer and blanch for a further 15 seconds, drain and shake off any excess water, then transfer to a serving bowl. Repeat to make another 5 serves. Top each bowl of noodles with half an egg, a few slices of fish cake and some shredded chicken, then ladle the hot laksa broth along with a few tofu puffs over the top. Garnish with mint leaves and Vietnamese coriander. Serve with the reserved laksa paste on the side, to add to the soup as desired.


  • Candlenuts give the dish a nutty flavour and creamy texture. You can find them at Asian grocers, or substitute cashew or macadamia nuts if unavailable.

    Vietnamese coriander is also known as Vietnamese mint or laksa leaf, and can be found in Asian grocers. It has a subtle heat as well as the coriander flavour. You can substitute it with common coriander leaves.
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