Laksa Lemak – Singapore Spicy Coconut Milk and Seafood Noodle Soup

This is another of my ultimate favourite “desert-island” dishes – Singapore Spicy Coconut Milk Soup with Seafood and Noodles – a meal in a bowl that is spicy and soothing and full of interesting flavours and textures.

The “authentic” method would be to pound all the ingredients for a spice paste plus candlenuts together in a mortar and pestle, but I simplify by having home-made red curry paste in my fridge/freezer, and then add the crushed macadamia nuts [to substitute for candlenuts which aren’t exactly readily available outside of Singapore/Indonesia] and additional garlic etc separately [you won’t go to hell if you use store-bought curry pastes either but home-made does taste miles better … ].

I’ve made this equally successfully with two or three chicken breast fillets, diced, when seafood isn’t available [either for economic or marketing reasons].

Serves 2 – 4 with leftovers [well, depending on appetite and size of bowls]

. . . . . . . . . .


3 tbs Red Curry Paste *

100g unsalted macadamia nuts, crushed

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced

2 inch piece ginger, peeled and finely sliced

2 red chillies, finely sliced

3 tsp chopped fresh coriander

2 x 400 ml cans coconut milk

1 litre homemade chicken stock

1 tbs [or more, to taste] fish sauce

2 tsp sugar palm sugar or brown sugar

2 fillets firm white fish, cut into 3 cm cubes

200 g uncooked king prawns, peeled **

12 fish balls, halved or sliced [available from Asian supermarkets]

100 g char siew, finely sliced [optional]

3 bunches kangkong or choy sum, chopped into 5 cm slices

100 g fresh bean sprouts, ends trimmed of scraggly or manky bits

6 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal; use mostly white to pale green part

1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced crosswise then lengthwise into matchsticks

2 red chillies, extra, finely chopped or bottled chilli sauce

2 eggs, hard boiled and sliced into quarters lengthwise [optional]

100 g peanuts, finely chopped

175 g bundle fine dried rice noodles 

* see separate recipe for Thai Red Curry Paste

** I reserve the heads and shells from the prawns in this and other dishes, and keep them in a freezer bag in a tupperware container in the freezer, and when I have a nice lot I will make a rich stock for this soup or other fish soups. 

Fry the prawn heads and shells in a little oil in a saucepan until they turn pink, then add a litre or more of water depending on the amount of prawns, plus maybe a little grated ginger, and simmer for 30 minutes or so.   Strain and reserve stock, use to make up the litre of stock for this dish or freeze for another occasion.

. . . . . . . . . .


Heat canola oil in wok, stir fry curry paste, crushed macadamia nuts, garlic, ginger, chillies and coriander. Fry until well combined and softened and oil begins to separate out, about 5 minutes. Don’t allow to burn!

Add coconut milk to spice paste mixture and combine well, then add stock, continue to stir. Add fish sauce and sugar. Simmer on low heat for 10 – 15 minutes.   Don’t allow coconut milk to boil too wildly or it will curdle.

Add cubes of fish and prawns [leave tails on prawns if liked!] and fish ball slices and simmer for another 5-10 minutes.  Scoop out and place in a bowl to one side of assembly area.

Blanch kangkong or choy sum and bean sprouts separately.  Drain well and place in a bowl to one side of assembly area.

Meanwhile soak/cook rice noodles separately.  DO NOT overcook – it’s best to undercook as noodles will continue to cook in the broth once served, and you don’t want soggy noodles!  Drain rice noodles and rinse under cold water, then drain well. 

When ready to assemble the laksa, re-heat noodles by plunging into a pot of boiling water for a few seconds and divide between large deep Asian soup bowls.   Arrange blanched greens and bean sprouts, and the cooked seafood and char siew on top of the noodles.  Top with a scattering of spring onions, a few slices of hardboiled egg, cucumber sticks, extra chillies and peanuts.  Ladle spicy coconut milk soup over seafood and noodles.

To serve and eat – hold chopsticks in right hand and use for grappling noodles and seafood etc; hold large Asian soup spoon in left hand and spoon in broth: slurping is unavoidable and only adds to the experience!  Some degree of splashing is also unavoidable unless you are an expert.

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  • By Recipe Index « OTTERKAT on Tuesday 11 October 2011 at 11:24 am

    […] Laksa Lemak   [Singapore Spicy Seafood & Coconut Milk Noodle Soup] […]

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