Authentic Kuala Lumpur Laksa

Serves 4

For the soup:

250g raw unpeeled prawns

Vegetable oil, for shallow and deep-frying

200g firm tofu

400ml coconut milk

2 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp palm or light brown muscovado sugar

100g dried rice vermicelli noodles

200g fresh egg noodles

100g cooked flaked chicken (from a ready-roasted supermarket chicken is ideal)

100g beansprouts

100g cooked fine green beans

2 hardboiled eggs, thickly sliced

3 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal

A handful of mixed mint and coriander leaves


For the laksa spice paste:

3 dried red kashmiri chillies, split open and the seeds shaken out

2 medium-hot fresh red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped

20g nuts (macadamia, unsalted peanuts or cashew nuts)

2 stalks lemongrass, core chopped

3 fat garlic cloves

3cm piece peeled galangal or ginger, roughly chopped

1 tsp turmeric powder

75g shallots, roughly chopped

2 tsp blachan (shrimp paste)

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Sambal oelek, to serve

Peel the prawns, reserving the heads and shells. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium-sized pan, add the heads and shells and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until they are crisp and golden. Add 1.2 litres of water, bring to the boil and leave to simmer for 1 hour until reduced to 750ml.

Heat some oil for deep-frying to 190C. Meanwhile, cut the tofu into 2.4x1cm pieces and drain well on kitchen paper. Deep-fry for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Drain on plenty of kitchen paper and set aside.

Strain the prawn stock, pressing out as much flavour as you can from the shells, and set aside. Bring a pan of unsalted water to the boil for the noodles.

For the laksa spice paste, put the dried chillies into a bowl, cover with boiling hot water and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Drain and put into a food processor with the remaining ingredients and blend to a smooth paste.

Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the spice paste and fry gently for 2-3 minutes until it starts to smell fragrant. Add the prawn stock, coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar and 1 ½ teaspoons of salt or to taste, and simmer for 3 minutes.

Drop the dried vermicelli noodles into the pan of hot water and leave to soak for 2 minutes. Lift out into a colander and leave to drain briefly. Drop the fresh egg noodles into the same water and leave to heat through for a few seconds. Drop the peeled prawns and cooked chicken into the curry soup and simmer for 1 minute. Add the mint and coriander.

Drain and divide the noodles between 4 warmed, deep noodle bowls and top with the bean sprouts, cooked green beans and fried tofu. Ladle over the curry soup, trying to divide the prawns and chicken pieces equally between each bowl. Top each one with some slices of hardboiled egg and spring onions and serve with a spoonful of sambal oelek.

What’s your favourite Malaysian recipe?