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Curry Laksa

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TasunkaWitko View Drop Down
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    Posted: 18 March 2019 at 10:51
Curry Laksa

When The Beautiful Mrs Tas and I went to Australia last October, one of our first meals there was a bowl of Laksa from Jimmy's Recipe, an eatery in the Gateway Plaza at Circular Quay that specializes in Malaysian street food.

It was something entirely new to us, but we both were amazed at how good it was and how different it was from anything we had ever had.

You can read about our experience here, if interested:

I immediately made it a personal goal to try to make my own Laksa in the same style as the Laksa that we enjoyed at Jimmy's Recipe. Almost from the moment we returned to Montana, I began to learn all that I could about Laksa while slowly gathering most of the necessary ingredients. The Beautiful Mrs. Tas was also enthusiastic to experience this wonderful meal again.

This list of links is in no particular order and represents most of the sources that I could find on the subject:

Most of these links were quite helpful in providing background information on Laksa as well as some information on the specific type of Curry Laksa that is served at Jimmy's Recipe. A few of the links also contain recipes for Laksa, with varying degrees of difficulty and use of ingredients. Over time, I might weed out some of the less-useful links that are not as relevant; however, that's what I have, for now.

One of the most useful links contained some very helpful advice from Alvin Wong, whose father founded Jimmy's Recipe; here, he describes a general procedure for making the Laksa that is served at their restaurant:

Originally posted by Alvin Wong Alvin Wong wrote:

The most important part of laksa is the soup. You can use the noodle of your choice, any meat or vegetables.

1. cook the chicken stock soup (you can cook it yourself or get it from the supermarket)

2. while heating up the chicken stock until it boils, pan-fry the laksa paste (which you can get from supermarkets, any brand is ok. I don't favour any particular brand….).

3. keep stirring the paste so it doesn't burn and stick on pan. As soon as it is hot, you should be able to smell the fragrance of the paste.

4. then put it into the chicken stock soup and add milk and coconut milk (just a small portion).

5. add sugar and salt for taste.

6. then pour your laksa soup into a bowl with the cooked noodles, meat and vegetables

7. enjoy!

From what I have learned, Laksa can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be; for instance, someone with access to a good Asian market should be able to make their own Laksa paste - the base of the meal - from scratch, and could also add a few specialised ingredients and components that could add to the over-all experience. Having said that, one can also make very good Laksa with a few basics or ready-made components. Armed with the knowledge that I gleaned from my research, the first thing I did was order some Laksa paste; there are a few varieties out there, but I chose this one because I remembered seeing it at a grocery store in Sidney and because I knew for sure that it contained enough to make one meal of four servings of the type of Laksa that I wanted to make:

Here are a couple of other options:

Another key ingredient that is needed is fried tofu puffs, which serve as a topping for the soup (similar to croutons). A key part of of the Laksa experience is enjoying the tofu puffs, which have soaked up the wonderfully-flavoured curry broth. I found these to be surprisingly difficult to find, but did locate a couple of sources:

Another option is to make your own tofu puffs; recipes abound on the Internet.

Unfortunately, through a series of ridiculous events, I never did pick up any tofu puffs for my first attempt; however, I did find an acceptable stubstifute and will elaborate on that later.

One final product that I ordered was something that is probably readily available in most bigger towns, but not so much where I live. This is Sambal Oelek, which is a chili sauce that can be added to the Laksa when it is served, for added heat and flavour:

I picked up a few other ingredinets, which were fairly easy to find even in my limited area, and then began to put a plan together in my head on how I would proceed. This past weekend, I was ready to give it a try, so I asked The Beautiful Mrs. Tas what type of Laksa she wanted: beef, chicken, seafood, vegetable, or a combination thereof. In reply, she said that she wanted a combination of beef, chicken and shrimp, so I picked up those meats and a few other last-minute essentials.

On Sunday, 17 March, I prepared this for lunch, with a much better degree of success than I expected. I neglected a couple of things, but for the most part I put it together fairly well and it tasted absolutely great. It was not quite the same as what we had at Jimmy's Recipe; however, it was actually very close, and I immediately was reminded of our experience in Sydney. Even better, I was able - through actually doing it - to get my mind wrapped around some of the procedures, which are in my opinion important when making this dish. Best of all, The Beautiful Mrs. Tas enjoyed it, as well!

In my next post, I'll outline how I made the Laksa, with as much detail as I can think of, and with a few ideas for next time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 March 2019 at 11:19
Alrighty, let's make some Laksa ~

I'll say right at the outset that this post is going to be more of a shopping list and a rough sketch of a procedure, rather than a recipe; it's important to keep in mind that this type of food is totally new to me, and a lot of things were going on while I made this for the first time. There are also a couple of things that I neglected and intend to do next time. Having said that, the Laksa turned out very good, and I felt like I grasped the basic procedure fairly well. If anyone has any questions, comments, suggestions or other feedback, please do feel free to post them, and I'll address them as best as I can.

Here is what went into my first Curry Laksa; for some ingredients, I am including a link to an online shopping source:

To serve 4 to 6:

2 chicken breast halves, sliced very thinly across the grain
Approximately 1 pound of sirloin, sliced very thinly on the bias
1 pound of raw shrimp, thawed, peeled and de-veined
2 to 3 shallots, sliced very thinly
Salt and pepper, to taste
Sesame oil, for frying
Minced garlic; perhaps 3 or 4 cloves
1.5 litres of chicken stock (I used Roasted-Chicken-Flavoured Better Than Bouillon)
One 200g/7oz envelope of Laksa Paste*
About half of a 13.5oz can of coconut milk (I used 150 to 200ml)
One 14oz box of stir-fry rice noodles (see note below)
1 "bunch" of scallions, sliced very thinly, for garnish
French-fried onions, for garnish
Sambal Oelek, to serve with the Laksa**


Here are a few things that should have gone into my Laksa; unfortunately, I either forgot at the time or wasn't able to get them:

Milk; the amount needed is currently undetermined, but perhaps 2 cups is a good starting point
Bean sprouts
A little palm sugar might possibly be required to balance the broth
Tofu Puffs*


I can't say for sure; but judging by the photo in the link above, you might need to cut these tofu puffs into quarters. Making your own fried tofu puffs is also an option.

In addition, there are many options for vegetables in the Laksa, as well as toppings or garnishes. The links in my post above can elaborate on this.

Finally, you can of course make your own Laksa paste, from scratch, rather than using a pre-packaged mix. This requires a few specialty ingredients that are probably available at any good Asian grocery, and the links above contain recipes that seem fairly representative.

A note regarding the noodles: The noodles that I used were stir-fry rice noodles, because that's what I was able to find locally:

They were just fine, but seemed a bit thick to my taste for making Laksa, and were definitely thicker than the noodles that were in the Laksa that we had in Sydney. From what I can determine, Jimmy's recipe uses two types of noodles in their Laksa, which is a fairly standard practice with Curry Laksa. I am no expert on Asian noodles, but the two types of noodles used by Jimmy's Recipe seemed to be thin, flat rice noodles and a sort of vermicelli. The next time I make this, I will endeavour to find noodles that might suit this dish more; or, failing that, I will simply use Ramen noodles. Having said that, I am guessing that any noodles you can or would like to use will be alright, if not strictly "proper."

In putting the Laksa together, I probably made it more complicated than it actually was; however, here is what I did. One note on terms: I am using the word "stock" to describe the liquid that I poached the chicken (and later the shrimp) in. Once that was done and I added the Laksa paste and coconut milk to the stock, I begin using the term "broth" to describe the liquid that actually comprised the soup.

1. I heated the chicken stock up to a simmer, then dropped the chicken in to begin poaching. At the same time, I heated some sesame oil in a cast-iron pan and began frying the slices of beef, along with the sliced shallots and some salt and pepper. I also began heating a pot of water for the noodles.

2. Once the chicken was poached, I added the shrimp to the stock and simmered it just long enough to cook the shrimp, only a few minutes. I then strained the chicken and shrimp out of the stock, and set them aside, covered, to stay hot. By now, the steak was just about done frying, so I reduced the heat and added the minced garlic.

3. By now, the pot of water was boiling, so I added the noodles, then shut off the heat and let the noodles cook in the hot water for 9 minutes.

4. I brought the strained stock to a boil and then added the Laksa paste to the stock. As the broth returned to a boil, I added the coconut milk. I made a judgement call regarding this; the instructions on the Laksa paste said to add 150ml, but a little more seemed necessary. In all, I added just a little more than half the can. When the broth came to a boil, I reduced the heat so that it could simmer while I finished the rest of the preparation.

5. When the noodles were ready, I strained them and put an equal portion in each of four large bowls. I used more than half of the noodles to do this, but not all of them. I also divided the chicken, steak and shrimp equally among the four bowls.

6. I ladled the Laksa broth into each of the four bowls until they were full; I then topped with sliced scallions and the French-fried onions and served the Laksa with the Sambal Oelek on the side so that each diner could spoon some in, if desired.

As mentioned above, everyone enjoyed this very much. The moment I tried it, I realised that I had hit fairly close to my desired mark; it wasn't quite the same as the Laksa that we had in Sydney - and it wasn't quite as good, either - but it was awfully close, and I was impressed with my first attempt. It even looked quite a bit like the Laksa that we had, except the broth didn't have the beautiful creamy quality to it, due to my forgetting to add some milk.

We had some broth and noodles left over, so I put them in the refrigerator and told the kids that they could have it for lunch or after school. I noticed last evening that the leftovers were almost gone, so they must have liked it, too.

This pretty much wraps up my first attempt at Laksa, and I would call it a fair success, with room for improvement. Looking back, it all happened fairly quickly, and while it wasn't really that complicated, it was rather intricate and time-sensitive. There were a few relatively minor execution errors, and I neglected at least one important ingredient. Here are a few things I would do differently, next time:

1. After straining the chicken and shrimp out of the stock, I will also run it (the stock) through a fine mesh strainer, so as to remove the small bits and "floaties" that appeared as a result of poaching the chicken.

2. Nearly all accounts and recipes mention frying the Laksa paste a bit in some oil, in order to bring out the aroma and flavours. The instructions on the package of Laska paste did not say to do this, so I did not fry the curry paste on my first attempt. I will probably give this a try next time, in order to add a layer of sophistication to the finished Laksa.

3. I will add milk to the finished broth, as Jimmy's Recipe adds milk to theirs. I am not sure of the amount needed, but I'll give two cups a try and see how it goes.

4. If needed, I'll add a bit of palm sugar (or Turbinado sugar, if no palm sugar is available) to the broth, in order to bring out just a bit of sweetness and balance.

5. I'll add bean sprouts to the bowls; I assume that I'll need to give them a quick dip in the chicken/shrimp stock, until they are tender. I might add a few mushrooms, too - just because.

6. I'll make sure I have the tofu puffs, adding them to the broth just before serving so that they can soak up the broth and make the dish a little extra-special.

7. In general, I'll try to improve the procedure and timing so that things flow a little more smoothly.

That's what I have for now; as I mentioned above, I am quite open to feedback on this, especially if anyone has experience with Curry Laksa. I hope that these posts have sparked an interest in this wonderful dish. If anyone would like to try making their own Laksa, the blueprint that I have outlined here should get you solidly on your way. If someone is already fairly familiar with preparing this type of food, you might even want to try making your Laksa paste from scratch. If anyone gives this a go, I'd strongly suggest that you also try the "improvements" that I have outlined in my after-action report.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote TasunkaWitko Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 April 2019 at 12:10
The Beautiful Mrs. Tas mentioned that she would like to have this again soon, so yesterday I ordered some more Laksa paste, as well as some Tofu Puffs, using the links above.

I'll try to make the Laksa soon after these ingredients arrive; I'll also try to incorporate the ideas that I listed above regarding possible improvements in technique and ingredients. With luck I might get a photo or two, as well.

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