I have tried laksa from scratch, and from a packet as well, and was pleased to find out that my sister preferred my random shambles version. I was in the mood for laksa again yesterday and decided to make it. And since I have more ingredients on hand that seem to fit the flavor profile, I decided to add more to my already zinging Laksa.
I did research too and discovered that the shrimp flavor is evident in most recipes. It came in the form of fresh shrimp, shrimp broth, and belacan. Belacan is like a Malaysian version of the local bagoong alamang. Fermented salted shrimp (or fish) used to flavor a lot of dishes. What is the difference between fish sauce and the other flavorings/condiments? Fish sauce is the one floating on top (salted water from the fermented seafood) while the belacan and bagoong alamang contains the fish guts. Belacan is a dry version though, and bagoong alamang is wet.
I didn’t have belacan, and wasn’t too sure on using our bagoong alamang. So instead, I used shrimp broth cubes. And going through my pantry, I had toooons more of spices that fit the flavor profile. I also had my cumin seeds (which I have never used yet). I had whole nutmeg, and cardamom as well.
This one wins all palletes! 🙂
More Complicated Laksa Recipe
3 teaspoons garam masala
3 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chili flakes (to taste)
2 teaspoons Chinese chili (to taste)
3 cardamom pods
2 medium onions, diced
1 head garlic, minced
3 stalks lemon grass, white part only, cleaned and smashed
1 whole chicken, cut into serving pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons of fish sauce
1 chicken broth cube (or 1 1/2 cups chicken broth)
2 shrimp broth cubes (or 2 1/2 cups shrimp broth)
1 can coconut cream
veggies of your choice
Roast all the spices (seperately, they burn in different rates) in a pan and swirl to avoid burning. Set aside and grind or put in grinder, except for the cardamom pods and nutmeg. Add salt to help you grind, and if needed, oil.
In a hot pan, saute the onion and garlic and allow to cook through. Add all the spices, including the smashed cardamom pods and grated nutmeg, about 1/2 a teaspoon. Throw in the lemongrass as well. Once the spices have been roasted, add the chicken pieces and quickly fry as well. Season with fish sauce. Cover and let it cook through for 30 minutes. Then add the broth (or water and the cubes) and allow to boil for 15 minutes. Taste. The flavors should be stronger, because once you add the coconut cream, the flavors will be diluted. Put in the coconut cream and let the flavors round together for another 10 minutes. Set aside.
Boil some water and add salt. I used beans, you may use other vegetables. Blanch the veggies in the boiling water, then plunge in cold water. Do the same for the vermicelli and also cut into shorter lengths. Toss the noodles in some of the sauce to make sure it doesn’t stick. To serve, layer the pices. First, the noodles, then top with the sauce, place a chicken piece, then top with the veggies (or how little of it you want). The flavors are really rounded here, and deeper as well. Yum!!!