Ingredients

FOR THE CHILLI SAMBAL / MAKES ¾ CUP
6 dried red chillies
3 fresh red chillies, seeds removed
2 teaspoons belacan shrimp paste
4 shallots, sliced
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
FOR THE LAKSA PASTE / MAKES 1 ¾ CUP
12 dried chillies, torn and seeds removed
2 tablespoons dried shrimp (optional but very delicious)
3 fresh red chillies
1 tablespoon belacan shrimp paste
4 cloves garlic
5 cm piece galangal, sliced
5 cm piece turmeric, sliced
3 shallots, sliced
2 lemongrass stems, chopped
8 candlenuts (or use 8 macadamia or 4 Brazil nuts)
¼ cup vegetable oil
FOR THE SOUP
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ cup laksa paste
1 x 400ml can of coconut milk
1 litre chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup Vietnamese mint leaves, shredded plus extra for garnishing
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon palm or brown sugar
½ x 150g packet fried tofu puffs, cut in half
1 x 250g packet fish balls
400g firm fish fillets such as trevally (purse seine) or kingfish (set net), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch asparagus, cut into thin slivers
1 x 500g bag egg noodles (or use rice or vermicelli noodles)
4 hard-boiled eggs, halved
bean sprouts
fried shallots
lime wedges and extra juice, to serve
Laksa is a dish that has variations throughout southeast Asia from Indonesia through to Thailand. Chicken is often added to the mix, as are fresh prawns; asparagus isn’t traditional but I like to add it when in season. Make large batches of both the sambal and the laksa paste then refrigerate or freeze. If you can’t find candlenuts use macadamias or a few Brazil nuts.

Instructions

1.FOR THE CHILLI SAMBAL
2.Break up the dried chillies and remove most of the seeds.
3.Cover with boiling water and set aside for 30 minutes to soften.
4.Drain but reserve the water.
5.Put into a blender with the fresh chillies, shrimp paste and shallots and blend to a smooth paste adding a little of the reserved water if needed.
6.Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the chilli mix and fry gently, stirring frequently for 10-15 minutes until thick, stir through the salt and sugar and put into a clean sterilised jar (it should keep refrigerated for weeks).
7.FOR THE LAKSA PASTE
8.In separate bowls soak the dried chillies and shrimp in warm water for 30 minutes to soften.
9.Drain and reserve the shrimp water.
10.Put the chillies and shrimp into a blender with the remaining ingredients and blend to a smooth paste adding the shrimp water as required to get a smooth paste.
11.Keep refrigerated in clean sterilised jars or freeze in ice cubes and store frozen in ziplock bags.
12.FOR THE SOUP
13.Heat the oil in a large pan and add the laksa paste.
14.Fry for 8-10 minutes until the oil separates from the paste, then add half the coconut milk and cook for 5 minutes.
15.Add the chicken stock, the rest of the coconut milk, salt, Vietnamese mint, fish sauce and sugar.
16.Simmer gently for 20 minutes.
17.Add the tofu puffs, fish balls and fish and cook until just heated through, about 4-5 minutes.
18.Add the asparagus just before serving.
19.Adjust the seasoning, adding more fish sauce and some lime juice if necessary.
20.Meanwhile, pour boiling water over the fresh egg noodles for a minute, drain and put into bowls.
21.Ladle over the broth, ensuring an even distribution of the tofu, fish balls and fish.
22.Top each bowl with an egg, bean sprouts, shallots, a spoonful of sambal, the remaining Vietnamese mint and lime wedges.

Recipes & food styling Ginny Grant / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Ellen J Hemmings

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