Takes: 1 hr 30 mins
1.5L chicken stock
2 lemongrass stalks
2 x 400g tins coconut milk
7 tbsp dark brown sugar, plus extra to taste
100g of laksa leaves (or fresh coriander and mint)
3 tbsp tamarind paste
12 deep-fried tofu puffs, halved (these can be bought at Asian supermarkets)
120g green beans, cut into 5cm lengths
24 raw king prawns, peeled and deveined
400g cooked fresh egg noodles
For the spice paste
15 dried chillies
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
7-8cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled
3 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
50g shrimp paste
3 tbsp ground coriander
3 tbsp chilli powder
1½ tbsp ground cumin
1½ tbsp ground turmeric
1 Soak the dried chillies in hot water for 30 mins. Drain, then add to a food processor with all of the other spice paste ingredients except the oil; blend to a smooth, fine paste.
2 Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the paste and cook for 30 mins, stirring constantly, until it’s a rich, red-brown and the oil separates from the paste. For maximum flavour, you can leave it in the fridge for 24 hours.
3 In a saucepan, bring the stock to the boil. Pound the lemongrass using a pestle and mortar to release the juices, then add to the stock along with the spice paste, coconut milk, sugar, laksa leaves, tamarind and 2 tbsp salt. Simmer over a low-medium heat for 15 mins, then remove the leaves and lemongrass, adjust the sugar and salt to taste, then simmer for a further 15 mins. Add the tofu puffs for the last 10 mins.
4 Meanwhile, blanch the following in a pan of boiling water one after the other: beansprouts for 30 secs, green beans for 3 mins and prawns for 90 secs. Refresh in cold water to halt the cooking, then drain.
5 Divide the egg noodles, beansprouts, green beans and prawns between 6 bowls. Pour over the broth, finish with 4 halved tofu puffs each and serve steaming hot.
Michael Raffael’s simple sambal recipe
This spicy condiment should be served alongside your laksa. Dab a little on the noodles when they’re between bowl and mouth.
Takes: 15 mins
1 clove garlic, peeled
20 dried chillies, soaked overnight, seeds removed
2cm cube shrimp paste
6-8 tbsp coconut milk
1-2 tsp tamarind puree
20g palm sugar (or dark brown sugar)
1 In a food processor, blend the shallots, garlic, chillies and shrimp paste to a paste. Add a couple of tbsp coconut milk or water to loosen it up and blend again.
2 On a medium heat, fry the paste gently in the oil, stirring it until the mixture splits, with the oil separated from the chilli paste. Stir it again, adding the tamarind paste, palm sugar and salt to taste. Add a splash more coconut milk and simmer for a few minutes more.
3 Transfer to a bowl and serve on the side of a laksa. Leftovers can be stored in a jar in the fridge.