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08 Jun 2023

Mandy Yin’s king prawn laksa recipe

Mandy Yin’s king prawn laksa recipe

Laksa evokes strong memories in Malaysians. I was born in Kuala Lumpur and my father is a Peranakan from Malacca, so my laksa is the spicy version I had there. It’s a mix of the Peranakan curry laksa and Assam laksa, from the north. Laksa is quite specific to Malaysia — you do get versions across Southeast Asia, but, although I'm biased, I don't think any are as good as ours. This probably owes a lot to the shrimp paste we use. It's labour-intensive to make, with a long list of ingredients that aren’t cheap, but people love it. You can find the deep-fried tofu puffs at Asian supermarkets. 

Serves: 6
Takes: 1 hr 30 mins 

1.5 litres chicken stock 
2 lemongrass stalks 
2 x 400ml tins coconut milk 
7 tbsp dark brown sugar, plus extra to taste 
100g laksa leaves (or fresh coriander and mint) 
3 tbsp tamarind paste 
2 tbsp salt 
12 deep-fried tofu puffs, halved  
120g beansprouts 
120g green beans, cut into 5cm lengths 
24 raw king prawns, peeled and de-veined 
400g cooked fresh egg noodles

For the spice paste 
15 dried chillies 
1 medium onion, roughly chopped 
7-8cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped 
8 garlic cloves 
3 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped 
50g shrimp paste 
3 tbsp ground coriander 
3 tbsp chilli powder 
1½ tbsp ground cumin 
1½ tbsp ground turmeric 
80ml vegetable oil or sunflower oil 


  1. To make the spice paste, soak the dried chillies in hot water for 30 mins. Drain, then add to a food processor with all the other spice paste ingredients except the oil. Blend to a smooth, fine paste. 
  2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the paste and cook for 30 mins, stirring constantly, until it’s a rich, red-brown colour and the oil separates from the paste. For maximum flavour, leave the spice paste in the fridge for 24 hours. 
  3. Pour the chicken stock into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pound the lemongrass using a pestle and mortar to release the juices, then add to the stock along with the spice paste, coconut milk, sugar, laksa leaves, tamarind paste and salt. Simmer over a low-medium heat for 15 mins, then remove the leaves and lemongrass and adjust the sugar and salt to taste. Simmer for a further 15 mins, adding the tofu puffs for the final 10 mins. 
  4. Meanwhile, blanch the following in a pan of boiling water one after the other: the beansprouts for 30 seconds, the green beans for 3 mins and the prawns for 90 seconds. Refresh each in cold water, then drain. 
  5. Divide the egg noodles, beansprouts, green beans and prawns between six serving bowls. Pour over the broth, top with the halved tofu puffs and serve steaming hot. 

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