CURRY LAKSA SERVES 4
Lotsa laksa? Yes, please. In Singapore, where hawker stalls are found everywhere from outdoor markets to air-conditioned indoor food courts, you’ll find laksa, a curry-noodle soup that speaks of the multi- faceted culinary history of the city. My favorite time to eat laksa? For breakfast or for a late-night snack—or both, to bookend the day. There are two primary types of laksa: curry laksa (made with coconut milk) and asam laksa (a sour version made with fish paste and tamarind). Though I love both, this recipe is the more popular curry version.
20 whole dried Thai chiles
1 pound dry rice noodles
10 shallots, sliced
1 3-inch knob fresh turmeric root, minced, or 2 teaspoons ground turmeric plus 1⁄2 teaspoon sugar
1 2-inch knob galangal or fresh ginger
4 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and thinly sliced
10 unsalted candlenuts or macadamia nuts
¼ cup belacan shrimp paste
8 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 cups shrimp stock or chicken broth
1 15-ounce can coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
16 pieces fried tofu puffs, each piece cut in half
8 prawns, shells and heads on
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved, for serving
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 medium cucumber, peeled and finely julienned, for serving
Fresh Kafir lime or Vietnamese mint leaves, thinly sliced, for serving
Spicy Sambal Sauce, for serving
In a small bowl, soak the dried chiles in warm water for about 30 minutes or until rehydrated.
Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling water according to the package directions. Drain, and divide the noodles among 4 large soup bowls.
In a food processor or using a mortar and pestle, grind the shallots, turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, drained chiles, candlenuts, and belacan with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil until a smooth paste is formed.
In a large pot, heat the remaining 6 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add the spice paste and sauté, stirring often, until the mixture is fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Pour in the shrimp stock and bring to a boil. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, and tofu puffs. Bring back to a boil. Add the prawns and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until they turn red.
Ladle the hot soup over the noodles in the bowls, dividing the prawns and tofu puffs among the bowls. Top with the eggs, bean sprouts, julienned cucumber, and sliced lime leaves. Serve with the sambal sauce on the side.