Nyonya Laksa

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So, laksa is one of those nyonya dishes that nobody knew was of Peranakan origin. I never knew it myself till much later too, although I’ve been eating laksa for years. Laksa is good, but what is really really good, is Katong laksa. There are so many ‘Katong laksa’ stores all over Singapore, and I won’t dare claim store which is the original Katong laksa store, but I’ve been loyal to the one I think is the best.

Katong laksa is one of my favorite foods of all time, but I’ve been trying to eat less of it because it is not the healthiest of foods. Back in secondary school, my friends and I would head to have Katong laksa during our CCA lunch break. It was a weekly affair, concluded by having bubble tea from the store next door (these were the times bubble tea was popular. The bubble tea store is no longer there.) Those were good days, but now I cringe over how many calories we consumed during those days.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg rice vermicelli (thin or thick, up to one’s preference)
  • 2 fish cakes, sliced
  • 1/2 kg prawns, boiled (reserve water used for boiling), shelled and de-veined
  • 1/2 kg bean sprouts, blanched for 30 seconds, then cool in ice water
  • 3/4 kg cockles
  • 6 tofu puffs, sliced
  • 10-12 daun kesum leaves (laksa leaves), chopped

Ingredients for Gravy

  • 2 cups (homemade) chili paste
  • 1 1/2 cups dried shrimp, soaked
  • 800 ml coconut milk
  • 1.4 liters water (may substitute with water used for boiling prawns)
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil

Directions
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Soak the cockles for at least an hour. It will ‘spit out’ dirt.

Cook the cockles by boiling. Stop when most of the cockles have opened. (This takes between 5 to 8 minutes. Discard any cockles not yet opened after 8 minutes.)

Soak the vermicelli for about 30 minutes before cooking.

Cook the vermicelli by adding the vermicelli to boiling water until it has softened, then drain and set aside.

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In a heated pot, add the cooking oil, then fry the dried shrimp until fragrant.

Add the chili paste, and continue frying for about one minute.

Add small amounts (about 1/4 cup) of coconut milk to the chili paste and continue frying until combined.

Repeat the step above until all the coconut milk has been incorporated.

Add water and stir until everything is evenly combined.

Add sliced tofu puffs, and heat until the gravy comes to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.

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In a bowl, add noodles, fish cake, shrimp, cockles and beansprouts.

Pour the gravy over the ingredients.

Sprinkle the laksa leaves over the top.

Serve and enjoy!

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