Talk about a meal in a bowl, Laksa is the bomb. Anyone who has been to S.E. Asia will have had this dish in street stalls, fragrant, hot, and spicy. The good news is, it is not so hard to make at home. Perhaps some of the optional additions that are available in roadside stalls are not common in other countries, but you can replicate the fragrance and spiciness of the dish.
In this recipe, a spice paste is made by blending the ingredients then cooking it off slowly before adding stock and other flavour enhancing ingredients. This beautiful broth is served with noodles, sprouts, herbs and other toppings.
This recipe is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.
It is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.
Similar recipes include Sweet Potato and Deep Fried Tofu in Coconut Broth with Noodles, Thai Silken Tofu with Bean Sprouts and Broth, Malay Coconut-Curry Stock (another excellent base for Laksa), and Asian Broth.
Browse all of our S.E. Asian recipes and all of our Soups. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
Curry Laksa with Fried Tofu
this amount makes quite a lot, so feel free to halve the recipe
100g peeled baby shallots (about 8)
8 garlic cloves
25g peeled ginger, sliced
15g lemongrass (soft white stem only), sliced (about 1 lemongrass stalk)
2 kaffir lime leaves, centre vein removed and leaves shredded
2 tspn ground coriander
3 red chillies
2 Tblspn sambal oelek or other chilli paste (or to taste – different pastes have different heat levels – if you are not familiar with your chilli paste, add it little by little until the right heat level is reached
4 Tblspn vegetable oil
50g fresh coriander
1.25 litres vegetable stock
1 branch laksa leaves (Vietnamese Mint) or 3 branches curry leaves, or some of each (Laksa leaves have a heat kick, so use to taste)
2 tspn curry powder (adjust to your taste, as every curry powder has a different heat level)
0.75 tpsn turmeric powder
2 Tblspn palm sugar (or use caster sugar)
400ml coconut milk
100g rice vermicelli noodles, or other Chinese noodles
300g bean sprouts
150g green beans or snake beans, trimmed cut into lengths
250g fried tofu puffs (from any Asian store)
4 limes, halved
sea salt, to taste
snow peas, shredded into long strips
Thai basil leaves
crispy fried onions (available from Asian stores)
Put the first eight ingredients in a small food processor bowl. Add half the oil, and the roots and stems of the fresh coriander, and process to a semi-smooth paste.
Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the spice paste on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring all the time – you want to cook it slowly without burning. Add the stock, laksa or curry leaf branches, curry powder, turmeric powder, about 1 tspn salt, sugar and coconut milk, simmer gently for 30 minutes, then taste and add more salt if necessary.
Once the broth is done, steep the rice noodles in boiling water for three minutes and drain. Blanch the beans in boiling water for three minutes, drain and refresh.
Just before serving, remove and discard the leaf branches (the leaves can stay in the soup). Add the beans, noodles and half the sprouts to warm through, ladle into large bowls and top with the remaining sprouts, tofu puffs and shredded coriander leaves. Squeeze lime juice on top and throw one half of squeezed lime into each bowl. Garnish with optional ingredients if desired.