Before I met my husband, my knowledge of Malaysian cuisine was at an absolute zero level. He introduced me to this wonderful cuisine that was so different and quite the opposite of Filipino cuisine. Tasting the strong spices for the first time was a bit of a shock to my unaccustomed palate. After getting used the heat and spices, I found that it was a very exciting and interesting cuisine and one that would leave you pining for it.
One of the dishes I like best are the noodle soups such as laksa, a very rich curry like soup that is so intensely aromatic and rich in flavour. Although there is a Philippine dish called laksa which is also a noodle soup, this is so different and more exciting. There are a lot of different versions from different regions but I once saw a version that I could easily copy. It was made with prawns, fish balls and fried tofu in an very rich coconut milk soup. I patterned my laksa on this version but added chicken as well. I served it with boiled eggs, bean sprouts , spring onions and coriander leaves. I like making my own version of recipes like these because I could tone down the heat and reduce the amount of oil. It was truly satisfying and left a warm feeling on both tum and heart.
3 cloves of garlic
1" x 1" piece of ginger
1 red finger chilli, chopped
2 stalks of lemongrass
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 onion, chopped
6 c. of chicken stock
2 chicken thighs
24 medium prawns
8 fried tofu, sliced
8 fish balls or 1 fish cake, sliced
1 tin of coconut milk
2 tbsps. of fish sauce
1 1/2 tbsps. brown sugar
150 gms. dry yellow noodles
150 gms. dry rice noodles
coriander leaves, roughly chopped
2 bunches of spring onions, cut into rings
1/2 c. bean sprouts, blanched
crispy fried onions
4 boiled eggs
Peel and devein the prawns, saving the shells for the stock. Heat up 2 tbsps. of oil and fry the prawn shells for about 4 minutes or until it turns red and is fragrant. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain.
Chop the garlic, ginger, chilli, lemongrass and onion in a food processor. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and pound into a paste. Heat up 3 tbsps. of cooking oil and fry the paste until it is fragrant and exudes oil. Add the stock, the kaffir lime leaves and the chicken thighs. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is done. Take the chicken out and leave to cool. When cooled, take off the bone and cut into strips. Leave the stock to simmer while you cook the noodles.
Cook the noodles separately until al dente. Divide into four bowls.
Add the coconut milk to the stock. When it comes back to a boil, add the prawns and fish balls. Add the fish sauce and sugar. When the prawns are done, add the tofu and turn the heat off.
Portion the prawns, tofu, fish balls and chicken strips on top of the noodles. Divide the stock between the four bowls. Sprinkle each with bean sprouts, coriander leaves, spring onions and crispy onions. Top with a halved boiled egg.
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