Nyonya-style chicken and coconut curry laksa

Nyonya-style chicken and coconut curry laksa
  • Serves icon Serves 4
  • Time icon Hands-on time 30 min, simmering time 25 min

”The key component is the spicy laksa paste, which is a labour of love to make, but once it’s done you can keep it in the fridge for up to a month, ready to be turned into bowls of goodness whenever the mood strikes.” – Ping Coombes

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
896kcals
Fat
51.2g (15.2g saturated)
Protein
42.4g
Carbohydrates
64.6g (3.1g sugars)
Fibre
3.4g
Salt
3.5g
Calories
896kcals
Fat
51.2g (15.2g saturated)
Protein
42.4g
Carbohydrates
64.6g (3.1g sugars)
Fibre
3.4g
Salt
3.5g

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless chicken thighs, skin on, sprinkled with salt
  • ½ lemongrass stalk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 200g sustainable shelled raw tiger prawns
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 6 bean curd puffs, cut in half (optional)
  • 200g dried rice vermicelli (noodles)
  • 50g fresh beansprouts
  • About 250g pack fresh egg noodles
  • Bunch fresh mint leaves
  • 2 free-range medium eggs, boiled for 6-8 minutes (for soft/hard boiled), shelled and halved

For the laksa paste

  • 8 whole dried red chillies (or use 1-2 tsp chilli flakes)
  • 25g dried shrimps
  • 3 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
  • 4 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 4 lemongrass stalks, bottom part only, roughly chopped
  • 30g fresh galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 30g fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsp shrimp paste
  •  6 candlenuts (from sous-chef.co.uk – or use macadamia nuts instead)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus 100ml for frying the finished paste

To garnish

  • Lime wedges
  • 4 tsp chilli oil with shrimp (optional)
  • Crispy shallots or onions (shop-bought are fine)

Method

  1. For the laksa paste put the dried chillies in a small pan, cover with water, bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat, then remove from the heat and leave to soak for 10 minutes (no need to soak chilli flakes – add them in step 2). Drain, halve the chillies and deseed. Put the dried shrimps in a bowl and cover with just-boiled water. Leave for 5 minutes, then drain.
  2. Whizz the soaked chillies and shrimps in a food processor with the other laksa paste ingredients to make a rough paste.
  3. Heat the 100ml vegetable oil in a wok or heavy based frying/sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the laksa paste and fry on a low heat for at least 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. When the mixture darkens slightly and oil appears at the bottom of the pan after you push a spatula through it, the paste is ready.
  4. Put the chicken in a pan with 350ml cold water, the lemongrass and salt, then poach over a gentle heat for 15-20 minutes until cooked through. Use a slotted spoon to remove the chicken from the pan and set aside on a plate to cool, then cut into strips. Add the raw prawns to the poaching liquid and cook for 2-3 minutes until pink and opaque. Remove with a slotted spoon to the plate with the chicken. Skim off any scum from the surface of the poaching liquid and discard the lemongrass; top up with water to make 1.2 litres.
  5. Put the poaching water in a large pan and add the laksa paste, chicken stock cube and coconut milk. Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat, add the bean curd puffs (if using) and simmer for 5 minutes. Season if necessary. Strain the laksa broth through a fine sieve into another pan. Remove the bean curd; slice it into 4 pieces and set aside with the chicken and prawns.
  6. When ready to serve, soak the dried vermicelli noodles and beansprouts in 2 separate bowls for 5 minutes in freshy boiled water. Scoop out with tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside in separate serving bowls, then add the fresh egg noodles to the hot water to soak for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside with the rice noodles. Put large handfuls of both types of noodles into 4 bowls (you might have more than you need).
  7. Arrange the chicken, prawns, bean curd (if using), beansprouts, a few mint leaves and ½ egg on top of each bowl of noodles. Make sure the laksa broth is piping hot (bring back to the boil if not or if you’ve made it ahead), then ladle the hot broth over the noodles. Serve the laksa with wedges of lime for squeezing over and sprinkled with a few drops of chilli oil with shrimp (if using) and a scattering of crispy shallots/onions.

delicious. tips

  1. Nyonya cooking is a hybrid of Chinese and Malaysian cooking styles, typical of the Straits-born Chinese (also known as Perenakan Chinese) communities of Malaysia and Singapore. In step 6 you can use other ingredients you have to hand, such as tofu, salmon or cooked chicken or pork.

  2. Poach the chicken/prawns and make the laksa broth up to 2 days ahead, then cover and chill. Make double the quantity of laksa paste and store in the fridge for up to 1 month.

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