This recipe is from the very excellent Michelle Wen Lee who runs 5 Foot Way, an incredible Malaysian street food service based in Wiltshire! Michelle and her husband run events and cater for those around Bristol, Bath and the Southwest. Adrian and I interviewed Michelle in our weekly live chat show, Vera and Adrian Work from Home last Wednesday. You can listen online here.
“I’ve had a few people ask recently about my cheat’s laksa lemak – a spicy coconutty soup noodle dish found in Malaysia, Singapore and around South East Asia. The real thing is made with prawn stock, made of prawn shells and heads that have been fried and then simmered to get all that prawn flavour into the broth.
However, my cheat’s laksa is an excellent substitute that can be made in 10 minutes, and satisfied that craving for something warming and spicy on a chilly day.
In my ingredients list, I’ve included items that you should be able to get from any large supermarket. A lot of these I have in my larder all the time, and the vegetables are easy to get hold of or you may have in your fridge anyway. I’ve also included the ingredients I usually use (shown in brackets), if you are able to get to a Chinese supermarket easily – they should have these substitutes.
If you are using instant noodles, it is really important not to use something with a horrible goopy stock flavour. Pot Noodles are definitely out of the question. You want something with a clear, simple broth.
The toppings are all optional but try to include at least one veg, one fish/prawn thing and the egg at the bear minimum. The rest are nice to have.”
Michelle’s Cheat Laksa (Serves 2)
Good quality instant noodles (Mama instant noodles) – 2 packets (stock powder & flavoured oils are included)
200g of dried rice vermicelli or a pack fresh egg noodles & 1 litre of good clear chicken stock like Knorr stock powder or chicken cube
1.5 litres of water (if you are using stock, then only add an additional 0.5 litres of water)
1-2 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Chiu Chow Chilli Oil (Way On Chilli Oil with shrimp) – depends how spicy you like it
4-5 tbsp Maggi Coconut Powder dissolved in a little warm water
Beansprouts – good handful
1/3 Cucumber cut into matchsticks
4 Tofu puffs
4 Peeled raw or cooked king prawns
4 Fish balls or half a fish cake sliced thinly
1 roast chicken breast shredded
Hard boiled egg cut into half
A few mint leaves
A sprinkle of crispy shallots / onions
Segment of lime
First, make up your chicken stock if you are using it. Also, dissolve the coconut milk powder in warm water in a small bowl and set aside. Put an egg on to boil for 8 minutes, after the water has come to a boil.
While you wait for the egg to boil, put a saucepan with the water or chicken stock on to boil. If your fish balls, prawns, tofu puffs etc are frozen, you can pop them in now.
Prep your veg and other toppings while you wait for the water / stock to boil.
If using water, when it comes to a boil, throw in the stock / oil sachets from the instant noodle packet, if you are using this. Add the chilli oil and dissolved coconut milk. Next add the noodles and cook according to instructions.
Add any raw or cold meat / fish ingredients at this point – if you are using raw fresh prawns or fish cake, chicken, tofu puffs etc.
When everything is hot and cooked through, turn off the heat and dish up.
First, put beansprouts in the bottom of the bowl. With tongs or chopsticks, take the noodles out of the broth and place on top. Then arrange prawns, fish balls, chicken strips on top with cucumber and half an egg. Ladle the broth with a couple of tofu puffs over the top. Garnish with mint and crispy onions / shallots and segment of lime.
Bring it to the table. Squeeze lime over the top. Eat with chopsticks & Chinese soup spoon. Slurp as much as you like. : ) “