Spicy and creamy, with tons of sweet-salty-sour flavor, and a bit funky, Southeast Asian laksa is pretty much a curry soup.
Think Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia on this one.
So nice for a warming dinner on a cold or rainy day, just get yourself a big bowl and you're on your way.
(And I think a tad addictive. Better than takeout?)
Curry paste, laksa paste (and we could say the same for the likes of pesto)... it's always good to have extra made and on hand. So much amazing flavor packed in there!
Leftovers of the soup are great, but remember that shrimp are much nicer texture-wise immediately after they're cooked. Those day-after, reheated shrimp can be a bit rubbery, so if that's a big problem, make what you need- not an excess.
Rice noodles would be the much more traditional addition to the finished soup, but if you've got rice to use up... plus sometimes noodles in soup can make for messy eating...
And while accompaniments would generally be added at one's discretion, to taste, I think lime and fresh cilantro are requirements. The soup isn't quite the same without the two of them sprinkled over the top just before eating. They add that last layer of fresh, crisp, and sour.
serves 8 or more
3 large shallots, roughly chopped
3 serrano chilis, seeds and ribs removed, roughly chopped
4 fresno chilis, seeds and ribs removed, roughly chopped
3 inches of ginger (about 30 g) peeled and grated
6 cloves of garlic, roughly minced
3 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves and top dry part removed, tender inner white part chopped
1/4 c (about 24 g) cilantro stems
1 T (7 g) ground turmeric
1 T (15 ml) tamarind paste
1 1/2 t (5 g) ground cumin
1 t (4 g) paprika
6 T (90 ml) olive or vegetable oil
2 cans (400 ml each) coconut milk
8 oz (240 ml) clam juice
2 c (480 ml) vegetable stock
3 T (51 g) packed brown sugar
1/4 c (60 ml) fish sauce
4 fresh cod fillets, skinned
40 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 1/2 c packed (290 g) bean sprouts
To serve: softened rice noodles or jasmine or basmati rice (cooked), chopped cilantro leaves, lime wedges
To make the laksa paste, combine the shallots, chilis, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, cilantro stems, turmeric, tamarind, cumin and paprika in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, then process everything to begin breaking it down. Add the oil and continue processing, scrape down the sides as necessary, until the mixture forms a relatively homogeneous paste.
Heat a large, heavy pot over medium and add the laksa paste. Stir the paste in the hot pot a few minutes until it begins to steam and become fragrant. To the hot soup base, add the coconut milk, clam juice, and vegetable stock, along with the brown sugar and fish sauce. Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and let simmer about 10 minutes.
To the simmering broth, add the whole cod fillets, and cook 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cod is cooked through. As it cooks and while you stir, break up the cod fillets into bite-sized pieces that will fit onto a spoon. Next, add the raw shrimp to the soup, and cook 2-3 minutes, until pink. Lastly, add the bean sprouts to the pot and cook a couple minutes.
Ladle the hot laksa into bowls along with rice noodles (or rice), add cilantro leaves and a squeeze of lime.