Cooking Laksa is an experience that extends well beyond the dish and into the magical world of Sydney’s greatest hawker home - the fish markets. I have spent many glorious hours weaving the herds of hungry bodies that excitedly snake around trays of the oceans spoils. To be able to see and squeeze the food one is about to cook and eat is one of those amazing things that unfortunately doesn’t happen as often as it should these days. The visceral desire to know and experience food is a thirst that is quenched by a food market of any sort, and I just love going home knowing I have the adventure of making something amazing.
This Seafood Laksa is one of those dishes that will awaken all of your senses before it even hits your mouth. The coconut cream acts as a primordial soup that beautifully holds the nuttiness and tanginess of the fresh spices, chili and lime. The amazingly deep zingy flavors of the soup are broken with the sweet and tender flesh of the fish and prawns (these are my personal favorites, however it would be great to use muscles, scallops or any other type of seafood).
This is such an easy dish to make, boasting a bouquet of flavors you’ll think took hours in the making. And, just because it’s no fun to slurp soup without something whipping you in the face, the zoodles are a fabulous accompaniment.
500g/1 lb raw prawns – shelled and deveined
500g/1 lb white fish fillets – boneless, cut into 1inch chunks
375g/12 oz zucchini – turned into zoodles
1 medium sized Lebanese cucumber – peeled and cut into matchstick strips
1 small bunch Vietnamese mint red chili paste
1 fresh lime
6 large dried red chilies
2 tsp shrimp paste
2 medium onions
6 macadamia nuts
2 stems lemon grass – white bits only
1 lemon – rind grated
4 tbsp peanut oil
1 tsp turmeric
3 tbsp fresh coriander
5 cups fish broth
¼ tsp sea salt
6 cups coconut milk
Prepare and set aside the prawns, fish, zoodles, cucumber and mint.
To make the soup, break the stems off of the dry chili and shake out the seeds. Then soak in hot water for about 10 minutes and drain.
Place the chili, shrimp paste, onions, nuts and lemon grass into a high-speed blender and process with a little water to help blend the ingredients into a paste.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a heavy saucepan and fry the ground mixture on low to medium, stirring frequently, for around 8 minutes until smells fragrant.
Add the turmeric and coriander and stir for a few minutes more. Then add the fish broth and salt and simmer for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, use the left over oil to stir fry the prawns and fish for a few minutes and then add to the broth.
Add the coconut milk and zoodles to the broth and bring to simmer.
Turn off the heat and serve with the cucumber and mint.