Gluten Free, Seafood, Shellfish
comments 6

Prawn Laksa – an interpretation

Laksa is food for the soul. It’s delicious – spicy and fragrant and packed full of goodness. I always feel so good after eating it! It’s messy, it’s true, but I think that adds to the value. Although, I did have to suffer through an afternoon at work recently with laksa all over my top having treated myself to one for lunch. My lunch partner, who shall remain nameless, was also drenched in laksa. I think we pulled it off. Looked like it should have been there! Erm, maybe not.

There are several types of laksa originating from Malaysia and Singapore. It’s essentially a spicy noodle soup, usually containing seafood, sometimes chicken. It’s hugely popular in Sydney which is where I came across it. There are many types, the ones I normally make (and haven’t blogged yet) are penang & singapore laksas – I’ll blog these soon. This one is a little different, fruity with the addition of tomatoes with a lovely sourness provided by the tamarind.

Laksa recipes seem fiddly and time consuming but they’re really worth it and not all that bad. The laksa spice pastes that are available in oriental shops are never the same as a homemade paste. I usually make double the amount so that I can make two meals from that one effort.

Enjoy and let me know how it works out for you. I am curious!


15g tamarind paste
200g prawns
500ml chicken stock
1-2 medium hot red chillies, roughly chopped
1 inch approx fresh ginger, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bunch coriander with roots if you can get them washed and roughly chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, rough outer husks removed and sliced
50ml sesame oil
1 teaspoon coriander seed
250g ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
400ml coconut milk
1/2 red pepper, finely sliced
Asian fish sauce, to taste
100g dried rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to the packet instructions
50g beansprouts
A handful of fresh mint leaves
4 spring onions, finely sliced
1 lime, quartered


Place the tamarind paste in 150ml hot water and roughly break up with a fork. Leave to the side.

If you have saved the prawn shells put them in a saucepan with the stock and simmer for 20 minutes, then strain and discard the shells. It’s worth doing this if you can as it adds a lovely prawn flavour to the stock.

Using your hands, rub the tamarind paste to loosen as much of the pulp as possible from the stones. Strain into the stock.

Grind the chillies, ginger, coriander seeds, lemongrass, garlic and fresh coriander to a paste in a pestle and mortar or blender. Add the sesame oil. Transfer to a saucepan and temper for about aminute or so.

Add the tomatoes and cook until they form a thick paste.

Mix in the stock and coconut milk. Bring up to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the prawns and sliced pepper and simmer for a few minutes or until the prawns are pink.

Season to taste with about 1 teaspoon fish sauce.

Divide the rice noodles and beansprouts between 2 large bowls and ladle in the soup.

Top with fresh mint leaves and sliced spring onions and serve with lime wedges.

Note: I altered the recipe for two people and added some ingredients but I haven’t reduced the liquid ingredients as I like my laksa to be very broth-y.

Sad food fact: Laksa is also a leaf. Also known as vietnamese mint (sometimes coriander) and used to garnish laksa in south east asia.




  1. If you like laksa lemak (the coconut milky version), the Prima Taste paste isn’t bad! It’s not spicy enough but it’s very tasty. You can find it at New Loon Moon in Chinatown.

  2. Hi Su-Lin, thanks for the tip.

    I am an annoying purist that likes to do everything from scratch. I’m very lucky to have a great Malaysian shop nearby so locating the pastes is never a problem. I prefer the more intense flavour and aroma of homemade pastes and it only takes ten minutes so I don’t mind doing it atall. The smell of the crushed lemongrass is reason enough to do it :-)

    I tell myself that it’s got to be healthier too, although that’s completely unfounded.

  3. Wow! Do you pound everything by hand too?

    I don’t have a food processor or blender (kitchen too small) and pounding pastes had my neighbours pounding on the walls so I’ve given up for the time being. Need a bigger flat or my own house!

  4. I do but I also have a little hand blender for when I’m feeling lazy as our kitchen is also tiny. I love my pestle and mortar! It’s very therapeutic. Once you have a decent stone, marble or cast iron mortar with a big pestle it’s easy-peasy and can be very cheap in chinatown/oriental city etc.

  5. I swear that laksa is an instant cure for almost any illness. It always fixes me, anyway.

Over to you! Your comments - I would love to hear from you :)