A popular spicy curry noodle soup with endless variations. From the Peranakan culture, which is the merger of Chinese and Malay culture found in Singapore. Typically made with thick rice noodles, the main ingredients for this coconut curry based soup are puffs of tofu, shrimp and cockles garnished with sambal chili paste and cilantro….yum!
1/2 lb large prawns, peeled and deveined and poached
1 lb mussels or clams, poached until just cooked
1 cup thinly sliced fish cake
1 cup fried tofu slices, halved
3/4 lb fresh thin rice noodles
2 x 3 inch piece galangal
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and chopped
2 tablespoons freshly grated turmeric or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
7 dried medium sized red chilies, rehydrated and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro stem
4 shallots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
5 candlenuts (substitute almonds or macadamia nuts)
2 teaspoons belacan (shrimp paste)
1/4 cup dried prawns, re-hydrated
2 cups coconut milk
2 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon palm sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup laksa leaves (optional)
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
2 cups bean sprouts, quickly blanched
1/2 cup cucumber, peeled and julienned
2 spring onions, sliced thin on the bias
1/4 cup cilantro sprigs
2 tablespoons sambal chili paste
With a mortar and pestle or mini-food processor, grind together the lemongrass and galangal until a thick paste forms to form a smooth paste. Add the fresh turmeric and then the chilies and crush until a reddish paste forms. Add the cilantro stems and shallots and continue to grind into a thick paste. Add the candlenuts to the chili paste and crush until well combined.
In a large sauce pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat and add the belacan, frying until the shrimp paste turns a shade darker and is very fragrant. Stir in the dried shrimp and fry until crisp, about 5 minutes.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, stir in the chili paste and and fry until oil releases and the paste turns a shade darker. Stir periodically, about 10 to 15 minutes. Once all the oil is reabsorbed into the paste, add 1/2 cup of coconut milk and combine well with the chili paste. Once the chili paste thicken, about 3 minutes, add another 1/2 cup of coconut milk and repeat. Add 2 cups of water to the thickened paste. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer over low heat. Stir in the remaining cup of coconut milk, lime juice, palm sugar and continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Season with salt to taste.
To cook the rice noodles, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place the noodles in a deep sieve and plunge the noodles in the water for 30 seconds. Use tongs to divide noodles into individual bowls. Pour a ladle full of hot broth on top of the noodles and immediately drain back into the pot of broth. Top each bowl with cooked shrimp and mussels, sliced fish cake and tofu.Pour a ladle full of broth over the seafood. Generously top each bowl with the wedges of egg, bean sprouts, cucumber, green onions, cilantro and a 1/2 teaspoon dollop of sambal chili paste.Serve immediately.
Makes 4 to 6 servings