Ever since I first tried Malaysian food I've pretty much been in love with it. I reckon it's the perfect combo of Asian and Indian flavours. One of the dishes both hubby and I really enjoy is laksa. When we first made this dish I did a lot of research on laksa and found that Malaysian laksa is actually different to Thai laksa. The ingredients are slightly different which makes the taste different. I wanted to make the Malaysian version so I stuck to the ingredients commonly used in Malaysian. In this recipe I am using Malaysian Laksa paste from a brand called Ayam. You can find this at most Asian grocery stores. For those who are allergy prone, please note that most laksa pastes contain dry shrimp and many of the Thai versions contain peanuts as well. Please read the label before buying.
Once you have the laksa paste, pretty much most of the work is done. The paste gives the depth of flavour here, but we will add more ingredients to build upon that flavour. This laksa is very easy to make and actually doesn't take very long. Don't be intimidated by the ingredients, especially if you have not worked with them before. This is the first ever Malaysian dish we have ever prepared, if we can do it, anybody can.
Lets talk about these ingredients though.
Galangal - is like the asian version of ginger. It looks quite similar to ginger, but it doesn't taste like it at all. You can find it in the asian store, mostly in the frozen section.
Lemongrass - which you may know of as it has fast made it's way into the baking and dessert world, is a very fragrant type of grass commonly found in Asian and tropical countries. It looks like little stalks that are white at the bottom and green at the top. Again, you can find this at your asian grocer in the frozen section. When working with it, you often remove the outer leaves as they tend to be quite dry.
Tofu puffs - are deep fried pieces of puffed tofu. They don't have a very strong tofu taste, but they are awesome for soups as they soak up all the liquid. They can also be found at the Asian grocer in the refrigerated section.
Noodles - this isn't a foreign ingredient anymore, but there are actually a good few hundred types in the Asian grocer these days! I prefer egg noodles for laksa although many people do use rice noodles or a combination of both. I've also seen hokkien noodles being used, but I'm not too big a fan of them. Use whatever noodles you see fit.
Proteins - Prawns are the common protein used in laksa. I assume that it's commonly used because laksa paste is actually made of shrimp paste. Either way, you don't have to use prawns, you can use chicken like I have, or tofu if you prefer. Or if you're feeling fancy use a combination of the 3. Why not?
Garnishes - Most asian dishes look pretty awesome because they put all these garnishes on top. I have included a list of commonly used garnishes for laksa, you can use all of them or just some. I would definitely recommend the boiled egg though. Don't leave that out!
Malaysian Chicken Laksa
6-7 garlic cloves, chopped
4-5 red Asian shallots, chopped
5-6 cm piece galangal, chopped
1-2 sticks Lemongrass, chopped
1-2 long red chillies, chopped, or to taste
80 ml (⅓ cup) vegetable oil
185g Jar Ayam Malaysian Laksa Paste
1 & 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
270 ml coconut cream/milk
500g chicken things, boneless, skinless, cut into cubes
8 small fried tofu puffs, halved
1 tsp palm sugar
fish sauce, to taste
1-2 limes, juiced
finely sliced spring onion
finely sliced long red chilli
To a food processor or blender, add the garlic, shallots, galangal, lemongrass and chilli, and process until a smooth paste forms.
Place a large saucepan over high heat. Add the oil and the blended paste and fry for 1 minute before adding the laksa paste from the jar. Fry for 2-3 minutes until fragrant, then add the stock and bring to the boil. Add the coconut cream and reduce heat to a simmer. Add the tofu and sugar. Season with fish sauce, salt and lime juice to taste.
Bring another large saucepan of water to the boil. Cook the egg noodles, for 2 minutes then transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water.
Add the chicken to the laksa, turn off the heat and allow to gently poach for until cooked through.
To serve, divide the noodles and chicken among bowls. Ladle over the broth and top with some or all of the garnishes. Serve piping hot!