This spicy Chicken Laksa is a Malaysian soup that may have a long list of ingredients, but it's super easy. Malaysian kitchens weave Chinese, Indian, and Malay culinary strands into a complex cuisine.
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
5 to 8 dried arbol chiles, stemmed
2 lemongrass stalks
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound boned, skinned chicken thighs, cubed
1 teaspoon shrimp paste*
3 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk
1 qt. reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 teaspoons sugar
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cinnamon stick
6 ounces mung bean sprouts, rinsed
8 ounces wide rice noodles
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, torn
Sambal oelek chili paste*
How to Make It
Grind coriander, peppercorns, cumin, fennel, cloves, turmeric, and chiles coarsely in a spice grinder. Peel tough outer layers from lemongrass, then mash core with a meat mallet or small, heavy frying pan.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken, shrimp paste, shallots, and reserved spices and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 minutes.
Pour in coconut milk, broth, sugar, and salt; add cinnamon and lemongrass. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 20 minutes.
Boil bean sprouts in a large pot of boiling water until softened, 2 minutes. Transfer sprouts to a bowl. Add noodles to pot and cook until firm, 4 minutes. Drain; rinse well.
Divide sprouts and noodles among 6 bowls. Ladle in soup (remove cinnamon and lemongrass) and top with mint and cilantro. Serve with limes and sambal.
*Find in the Asian aisle of a well-stocked grocery store or at an Asian market.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per 1 1/2-cup serving.
Lived in Indonesia and Malaysia for a year. Wanted the dish we remember. I had to improvise. Used Thai coconut ginger soup base for lemongrass, used ham broth seasoning for shrimp paste, skipped Sambal. Added mushrooms and shrimp. Was very much what I remember from my time there. I thought the amount of spices was overboard but it was wonderful. I just used the ground stuff from my cabinet.Will cook soon for company.
I made this for the first time this evening for my fiance who loves Asian and spicy food. I added all of the arbol chilis called for in the recipe, but I did not seed them - spicy indeed! I've never had Malaysian food before, but I think the flavors are reminiscent of Thai food due to mixture of coconut milk and spices. On a whim, I added enoki mushrooms. I simply added them to the bowl with the noodles and sprouts before ladling in the broth. Delicious!