Coconut Shrimp Laksa
I have been meaning to share this recipe with you for eons. Or at least since 5 weeks ago, according to Instagram. Where does the time go?
I do know where it’s gone, actually. I have been doing more photography projects since the new year, so most of my dedicated work time has been spent in my studio, which I adore.
But I’ve gotten a bit behind in sharing recipes, which I need to rectify, stat. Because y’all need this laksa in your lives and I’ve let you down by not providing the recipe sooner. I’ve made it in various iterations at least 3 times since I shot these initial photos. It’s just such a great clean-out-the-fridge meal, tossing in whatever protein and veggie scraps I have on hand.
As I mentioned on Instagram today, I’ve been trying to “shop my pantry” more, using up what I already have before running to the store for new ingredients. Trying to buy less, waste less, store less in my cupboards. It started last year when I thought we might be moving which motivated me to consciously avoiding re-stocking staples as they got low. And it turned into a habit, one I really like. I can’t tell you how many bags of nuts I’ve had go rancid over the years, how many vegetables have met a slimy demise in the depths of my crisper drawer.
So use-it-up meals are now on regular rotation for me, and this is one of my favs.
Laksa is a spicy coconut curry soup with noodles and various toppings. And it’s seriously all about the toppings. Fried tofu, crispy shallots, softie eggs, shrimp, herbs. And whatever you feel like freestyling – I love adding sauteed greens.
The base of my version is Thai red curry paste. Traditionally, a labour-and-ingredient-intensive homemade laksa spice mixture is called for, but the flavour profile is very similar to the store-bought Thai paste and I’m a big fan of 5-minute meals on a weeknight. Are you with me?
To make the fried shallots (SERIOUSLY SO ADDICTIVE), heat 2 cups of canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat for about 5 minutes until shimmering hot (or 350ºF). Fry thinly sliced shallots, rings separated, until golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt. Try not to inhale them all before you actually put them on your noodles.
The best tofu for laksa is store-bought tofu puffs, which are fluffy and spongy and sop up the soup then burst in your mouth. Delicious. But not all that easy to find (I get them at Kitsilano Natural Foods, if you’re in Vancouver). Since with this recipe your oil is already hot for the shallots, you can just fry some tofu yourself – but it doesn’t have the same light-as-air, bursty-juicy quality. Just drain it between paper towels for 30 minutes then cut into rectangles and fry until golden, 5-6 minutes, turning frequently. Work in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pot.
To make soft-boiled eggs, bring several inches of water to a boil, add egg and set a timer for 6 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath or run under cold water to stop cooking. Happy slurping!
Coconut Shrimp Laksa
Spicy Malaysian coconut curry soup with shrimp, noodles and all the most delicious, choose-your-own-adventure toppings - I recommend fried shallots, soft-boiled egg, fried tofu, herbs and sprouts.
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 5 tbsp thai red curry paste
- 1 14- oz can coconut milk
- 4 cups 1 litre/quart chicken broth
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 stalks lemongrass bottom 8" only, outer stalk removed, cut into a few pieces then smashed with the side of a knife
- 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen
- salt to taste
- 1 lb egg noodles or a 6-person quantity of noodles of choice, wheat or rice both work
- Fried shallots see note above
- Soft-boiled egg see note above
- Fried tofu see note above
- Lime wedges
- Bean sprouts
- Fresh mint and/or cilantro
Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. When shimmering hot, whisk in curry paste and cook for a minute. Whisk in coconut milk and bring to a boil, then whisk in brown sugar and chicken broth. Add lemongrass. Simmer 15 minutes, adding salt to taste (it will depend on how salty your broth was).
Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until tender, according to package directions. Drain in a colander.
Add shrimp to simmering soup and cook until just opaque. Scoop some noodles into bowls, then ladle soup on top. Add desired toppings (see notes in post).