Laksa Lemak aka Fatty Laksa


Whenever someone says “I love Laksa!” I always wonder which type – as there is a difference. My favourite is the laksa lemak which translates to fatty laksa (I love this!) and is a Nyonya dish of noodles in a spicy coconut soup.

While we do not think “Christmas food” when talking about laksa, it definitely is perfect for the cold weather. With it snowing these last two days, nothing sounded better to us both than a steaming hot bowl of creamy spicy coconutty goodness to warm us right up.

This recipe is my mother’s and while this probably isn’t the most strictly authentic recipe out there (made by a Danish woman after all), there have been zero complaints in our home with Dan being the biggest fan of it. So much so, that when we were planning our trip home for Christmas this year (ruined by COVID) he asked “Do you think she will make laksa?”.

Needless to say I had to make it and after getting my mum to share her secrets with me in the best way possible – “about this much Galangal” **holds up fingers on videocall to demonstrate size** – I think I have managed to make one that tastes just as good despite the lack of fresh coconut milk that she uses.

(& yes mum, I know you are reading this – Dan says its nice but still not quite like yours, so we still have to come home)

Recipe (Serves 6-8)

15 Dried Chillies
7 Red Chillies
250gm Shallots
5-6 Candlenuts
1 Heaped tablespoon ground Coriander
Thumb sized (5cm) fresh turmeric
5cm galangal X 2 (or 3 tbsp Galangal paste)
30gm dried prawns
500ml Prawn Stock
400ml Coconut Milk
150gm Creamed Coconut
400ml Boiling Water
2 Lemongrass stalks pounded
Shrimp paste (aka Belacan) 1.5cm X 5cm
2 boneless chicken thighs
Fishballs (Asian supermarket will have these)
Fried tofu puffs (Asian supermarket will have these)
Fish cake (Asian supermarket will have these)
Bean sprouts to garnish
100gm green beans
1 Knorr chicken stock cube
150gm vermicelli
300gm yellow egg noodles
Hard boiled eggs (1 per person)

Prawn Stock
1kg prawns with heads attached
1.2L of water
1 tsp salt

1. Bring water to boil and let prawns cook for 5 minutes.
2. Remove prawns from water (do not throw the water away)
3. Remove shell and heads of prawns. Set prawns aside
4. Add heads and shell back to water and continue to boil for about 15 minutes.
5. Strain stock into another pot and set aside.
You will have 1L of stock, this recipe only calls for 500mls but you can use the prawn stock later – just freeze it like I did.

Method for soup
1. Deseed chillies and soak in boiling water for about ten minutes.
2. Toast the shrimp paste (belacan) lightly over a the fire. I used a fork and a lighter to toast it lightly on the outside.
2. Put candle nuts, shallots, chillies, dried prawns, turmeric and galangal in a blender with 50ml of water and blend till you get a smooth paste.
3. Heat up about 2 tablespoons of oil in a pot and fry the lemongrass till fragrant.
4. Then add paste to mixture and fry until fragrant.
5. Add 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar and 1 heaped tablespoon of coriander powder to the paste and continue to fry.
6. Once the chillies are cooked – the oil will rise to the top and the colour becomes a bit darker – add the prawn stock to the paste and bring to boil.
7. Let the soup boil for 10 minutes before dropping down to a simmer.
8. Then add 150gm of creamed coconut to 400ml of hot boiling water in a separate bowl.
9. Add the coconut milk and the creamed coconut mix to the soup, and let simmer for another 10 minutes.

Preparing the laksa bowl
1. Dissolve Knorr cube in boiling water – 1L
2. Add chicken filets to the boiling stock. Once cooked, then remove and shred.
3. Cut beans to 2cm length. Blanch green beans in the boiling stock for 3 minutes, then remove and set aside.
4. Prepare your laksa bowl – noodles, fish cake, fishballs, tofu.
5. Using a sieve – add yellow noodles, fish balls, fish cake and dried tofu to stock (make sure it is boiling) for 3 minutes, then add vermicelli and bean sprouts for another 2 minutes (they cook very quickly) and place in bowl.
6. Add soup to bowl and garnish with cooked chicken, prawns, green beans, hard boiled egg and some chopped red chillies.

1. You can add the bean sprouts in at the very end raw, but I am paranoid and prefer them cooked.
2. Traditionally this dish is served with a side of sambal – we do not always do this in our home but it is lovely with it as well.

3. The dried fried tofu might be difficult to get but most Asian grocers should have it. I feel it is key to this dish, cause it soaks up all that soup, so when you bite into it you get the chewy tofu and a splash of soup in a bite.

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