This is the real deal my friends!  Paste made from scratch and by george could you notice the difference!  Ok…..don’t be put off.  All you have to do is whizz up the paste and you have enough for three meals.  I also “puffed” my own tofu but you can buy it already “puffed” at asian grocers.  The heady scent of the paste frying had people all over the house gravitating towards the kitchen in a trance like state……do yourself a favour and give it a go!

Serves 4

For the paste:

7 dried red chillies*
1/2 a cup of boiling water
1 tbs of peanut oil
2 tsp of shrimp paste*
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
5cm piece of galangal, peeled (ginger will do), roughly chopped
5 eschallots, peeled
2 stalks of lemon grass, white part only, roughly chopped
1 tbs of raw macadamia nuts
1/2 a bunch of coriander, stems and roots included
4 kaffir lime leaves
1tsp of ground tumeric
1tsp of ground coriander
Sea salt for seasoning

For the laksa:

1 pkt of rice stick noodles (I use the flat kind, whatever you prefer)
750ml of chicken stock
400ml of coconut cream
2 cups of water
2 tbs of fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbs of palm sugar (brown is fine)
2 chicken breast fillets, sliced into bit size chunks
1 pkt of puff tofu*
16 green prawns, tails on
1 bunch of baby bok choy,  rinsed and roughly chopped
1 bunch of baby choy sum, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 lebanese cucumber, diced
1 red chilli, sliced
1 pkt of bean sprouts
Deep fried shallots* for garnish
1/2 a bunch of coriander, some leaves reserved for garnish
Lime wedges to serve

Boil the jug and rehydrate the dried chillies in a jug with the boiled water for 10 minutes, drain.  To make the paste, place all the ingredients in a blender or good food processor and pulse until you have a lovely fine paste like consistency with no large lumps.  Measure out 4 tablespoons of the paste and freeze the rest in zip lock bags for future use.

Heat a large pot and add a little peanut oil.  Fry the paste for approx 1 minute or until fragrant.  Add the stock, coconut cream, water, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice.  Bring to a simmer, have a taste and adjust either the fish sauce, lime juice or sugar if needed.  You should have the perfect balance of sweet, sour and salty.

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions.  Poach the chicken pieces in the laksa sauce for approximately 10 minutes. Add the tofu and prawns and simmer for approx 3 minutes before popping in the bok choy, coriander and choy sum.  Pop the lid on and allow the vegies to be just wilted but make sure the sauce is simmering.  Don’t cook the prawns and veg for too long, they only need a couple of minutes!

Divide the noodles between four large laksa bowls.  Ladle the laksa over the noodles ensuring everyone gets a relatively equal amount of prawns, chicken and tofu.  Top the laksa with bean sprouts, cucumber, dried shallots, chilli slices and coriander.  Serve immediately with lime wedges.

*These ingredients can generally be found in the asian section of the supermarket, however you may need to go to an asian grocer.