When traveling through Malaysia and Singapore we became huge fans of Laksa. This creamy noodle soup is full of spicy exotic flavors, such as lemongrass and creamy coconut milk, that we have come to crave when traveling through Southeast Asia. We quickly discovered that we weren’t alone in our adoration for this deceptively simple noodle soup. Hawker stands throughout the region are regularly packed with diners lining up for a steamy bowl.
The fresh curry paste used to make Laksa is a mixture of fresh ginger (or galangal), cilantro, garlic, lemongrass, nuts, and Kaffir lime, blended with sweet and sour flavors such as tamarind paste and pungent shrimp paste. This recipe provides the option of using a homemade laksa curry paste (which, in my humble opinion) always yields better results). I’ve provided instructions for using both fresh and prepared curry paste.
There are also plenty of commercially prepared curry pastes that can be used to make a very flavorful soup. If time is short, using the prepared paste can shorten cooking time to about 15 – 20 minutes, which is pretty tempting. If you do make the soup using a packaged laksa paste, try making it with the fresh paste at least once, just to experience the difference. Either way, be prepared for a soup that will change your whole perspective how delicious a bowl of noddle soup can be!
In Malaysia, Laksa is made with a thick rice noodle. They are admittedly difficult to source outside of Singapore/Malaysia.
Using vermicelli noodles, udon noodles, or rice stick noodles or pad thai style rice noodles will all work just fine.
What is important is what is used to garnish the soup. Trimmed bean sprouts and fresh cilantro are a must. A spicy condiment, such as sombal (which uses fish paste, chiles and shallots) is very common. Many also make the soup with fried tofu puffs, hard boiled eggs, chopped nuts, fish balls, fresh cilantro and sprigs of mint.
2 Kaffir Lime Leaves (or juice 1/2 lime), stems and center rib removed
2 Cups Coconut Milk
1 Tablespoon Thai fish sauce, (nam pla)
8 Oz Fresh Laksa Noodles, or other thick rice noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
Garnish with bean sprouts, ground cashews or peanuts, fresh cilantro, fresh mint, slices of fresh red chile, hot sauce such as Sambal Oelek
Additional Ingredients if Using a Prepared Rather Than Homemade Laksa Paste
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon Fresh Grated Ginger
1 Stock Lemongrass, outer layers removed, white part only
If using Homemade Curry Paste, omit the step 2 below. Using the additional fresh ginger, lemongrass and garlic will add extra flavor to a prepared curry paste and are not needed if using the fresh homemade version.
Lightly coat a soup pot with vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, lemongrass and ginger, stirring frequently to prevent sticking or burning the ingredients. Continue cooking for 3 minutes.
Add 1/2 cup of Laksa Paste and cook for about 5 minutes.Â
Add water and low salt beef stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the coconut milk and fish sauce to the soup. Bruise the lime leaves by folding them a few times and add to the soup. Reduce the heat to a low simmer.
Heat a skillet and coat lightly with vegetable oil. Lightly salt and pepper the beef on both sides, then brown on each side (approximately 2-3 minutes depending on the thickness you have selected). Prepare to your desired level of doneness. Set aside.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. Additional laksa paste can be added for extra spice, more fish sauce or lime juice will add some tartness, or a little brown sugar or tamarind sauce will create sweet and sour notes. Keep in mind that the soup can be slightly salty which should balance out once the soup is added to the noodles.
Divide the prepared warm noodles into bowls.Â
Cut the steak on the bias.
Ladle soup over the noodles and top with trimmed bean sprouts, fresh cilantro and mint (optional). Top each bowl with a few slices of beef.
Serve with other toppings, such as fresh lime wedges, chopped nuts, and chili sauce such as Sambal.
If you enjoyed this, try some of our other popular Malaysian and Singaporean recipes:
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