Learn how to make a good laksa soup from scratch. This restaurant-quality laksa is packed with flavors and is so aromatic. The broth has the perfect balance of sweet, savory, and spicy tastes. So addictive! A hearty and comforting soup that you can enjoy all year round.
Craving for Laksa but couldn't find any Malaysian restaurant nearby? Try this Laksa soup recipe.
You'll be surprised how easy it is to make a good laksa soup at home from scratch. This bowl of noodles with soup is all about the flavor as it adds a spicy and delightful umami taste.
Malaysian Spicy Coconut Noodle Soup - Laksa
This curry Laksa soup is made with coconut milk and mixed with fragrant spices that give it a wonderful aroma and taste.
There is no need to buy pre-made laksa paste. Canned laksa paste is loaded with preservatives and MSG.
You can make laksa paste yourself with simple ingredients that you can find at any Asian grocery store. It tastes better and much fresher than canned laksa paste, there's no comparison
What is Laksa?
Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup from Malaysia, Indonesia (in Java, Medan, and Palembang), Singapore, and Southern Asian countries. Just like Nasi Lemak, Laksa is also considered to be the national dish in Malaysia.
There are three main types of Laksa; Asam Laksa, Curry Laksa, and the combination of both. Asam Laksa is a fish-tamarind-based soup while Curry Laksa is served with a coconut milk-curry-based soup.
The curry laksa is prepared on your choice of ingredients like chicken, fried tofu puffs, fish balls, shrimp with rice noodles, and curry-based broth. It also requires bean sprouts, lime, and cilantro as toppings.
What is Laksa Paste Made of?
This Laksa paste is made of dried shrimp, dried red chili peppers, turmeric, ginger, fresh jalapeño, garlic, candlenuts, shrimp paste (also known as terasi or belacan), shallots, galangal, and lemongrass.
All the items are blended in the food processor and fried with little oil to have a deep flavor.
If you use a regular blender, you need to keep on adding a little quantity of liquid to break down the ingredients quickly so the paste is smooth and chunk-free.
You can make the laksa paste ahead and preserve it in the refrigerator for later use.
Here's a good tutorial on how to prepare lemongrass for cooking.
These ingredients may not be easy to find but if you do find them, you can stock up and keep them in the freezer to prolong the shelf life.
Galangal, shrimp paste, candlenuts, dried shrimps, and lemongrass are so versatile and are the key staple ingredients for Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, and other Southeast or South Asian cuisines. It's absolutely worth it, you'll be set to make a diverse group of delicious Asian meals!
How to Make A Good Laksa Soup
This curry-based soup has a fully delightful flavor and it is very easy to prepare. Here are some important steps to follow.
Step 1. Prepare the Chicken Drumsticks
- In a large pot over high heat, add chicken drumsticks and enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes.
- Remove the chicken from the pot, transfer it to a plate, and discard all liquid.
Parboiling chicken is intended to get rid of any impurities in the chicken for a cleaner tasting broth.
Step 2. Make Laksa Paste
- In a blender or food processor, add ginger, galangal, candlenuts, garlic, fresh chili peppers, turmeric, dried red chili peppers, lemongrass, dried shrimp, shallots, and shrimp paste or terasi.
- Pulse until smooth. Add about 3-4 tablespoons of dried chilies water to break down all ingredients quickly.
- Heat 4 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Cook the laksa paste over medium-high for about 4-5 minutes or until fragrant and until the oil separates from the paste.
Step 3. Make Laksa Broth
- In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Add shrimp shells and cook, keep stirring for 5 minutes.
- Add broth and drumsticks into the pot. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium-low, simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
- Remove the shrimp shells from the pot. Add laksa paste, fish sauce, and sugar into the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add coconut milk. For a thicker broth, wait a bit longer until the broth is reduced before adding the coconut milk.
Step 4. Add Protein
- Add fried tofu puff and fish balls. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until they are warm thorough out.
- Add shrimp and cook the shrimp until they are fully cooked for about 2-3 minutes.
How to Serve Laksa Noodle Soup
- In a serving bowl, add noodles, chicken, fish balls, fried tofu puffs, and broth. Garnish with bean sprouts, cilantro, sambal, chili paste, lime wedges, chopped chilies, or any other toppings of your choice.
The Best Noodles to Use for Laksa
Thick rice noodles or also known as laksa noodles are the most commonly used in Laksa soup.
However, all types of noodles are acceptable for Laksa.
You can use rice vermicelli (also known as bihun or bee hoon or mee hoon), Hokkien noodles, egg noodles, spaghetti, glass noodles, or any fresh/dried wheat noodles. Whichever you prefer and available in your pantry.
Laksa Ingredients and Variations
Candlenuts: Also known as buah kemiri is a staple ingredient used in many Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. It has a nutty flavor without being bitter.
They look quite similar to macadamia nuts with a different flavor profile. Candlenuts are toxic when eaten raw so store them in a place that young children cannot reach.
The best substitute for candlenuts: macadamia, brazil nut, or cashew.
You can purchase candlenuts at 99 ranch market for around $1.39 per 7 oz bag.
Galangal: Also known as Lengkuas or Laos is closely related to common ginger. It's commonly used in traditional Southeast Cuisine, such as Indonesian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Malaysian cuisine.
You can find fresh (about $5.99/pound) or frozen galangal ($1.39/200-gram bag) at any Asian grocers or Amazon.
The best substitute for galangal: young ginger with a small amount of lemon juice.
Shrimp Paste: Also known as terasi or belacan. It is a fermented shrimp commonly used in Southeast Asian and Southern Chinese cuisines. It's savory and very salty with a strong concentrated shrimp taste.
You can purchase Belacan or Terasi at 99 Ranch, H market for $2-$3 for each package. It's also available at Amazon.com for a higher price.
Dried shrimp: Sun-dried shrimps that have been shrunk to thumbnail size. They are commonly used in Southeast and South Asian cuisines to add umami flavor to any dish.
You can find dried shrimp at any Asian or regular supermarket for about $3.99 - $4.99 per 3.5-oz bag.
Fried Tofu Puff: You can purchase the deep-fried tofu cubed at any Asian supermarket in the refrigerated section, around $2.99 per 9-oz bag. Fried tofu puffs have a spongey texture. They will absorb the juice in the soup and make them so juicy.
A must-have laksa ingredient, so please don't skip it.
Fish Balls: You can find frozen fish balls at any Asian supermarket, for $3.99 - $4.99 per 500-gram bag.
There are so many types of fishballs to choose from. You can use whichever you prefer.
FAQ and Cooking Tips:
If you're having trouble finding ingredients, feel free to use any store-bought Laksa paste, such as Poor Kwan Laksa Paste and Laksa Curry Paste by Ayam.
Properly stored, the homemade laksa paste will last 3-5 days in the refrigerator or up to a month in the freezer.
First, let the soup cool down at room temperature but no longer than 2 hours. Keep the soup and toppings in separate containers. Properly stored, the leftover laksa soup will last 4-5 days in the refrigerator or up to a month in the freezer.
Check Out More Asian Recipes:
- Soto Ayam
- Egg Drop Soup with Crab Meat
- Sweet and Sour Fish
- Homemade Crab Rangoon
- Instant Pot Fried Rice
- Chicken in Black Bean Sauce
- Chinese Eggplant with Minced Pork
- Spicy Sichuan Noodles
- Chinese Sausage Fried Rice
- Hunan Beef Cumin
- Shrimp and Green Peas Stir Fry
- Minced Pork Noodles Soup
- 6 large chicken drumsticks
- 5 cm fresh ginger , (peeled) - about 10 grams.
- 5 cm fresh galangal, (peeled) - about 10 grams.
- 5 cm fresh turmeric, (peeled) - about 15 grams.
- 7 candlenuts
- 2 large lemongrass stem, (white part only, cut in small parts) - 30 grams.
- 10 pieces dried red chillies
- 1½ tbsp dried shrimp
- 20 grams belacan or terasi
- 5 garlic cloves, (peeled)
- 2½ oz shallots, (peeled)
- 1 fresh red jalapeño or serrano, (seeded)
- 7 tbsp neutral oil , (divided)
- 2-4 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp sugar, (add more according to your liking)
- 1 can (13.5 oz) coconut cream
- 8 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 1 pound large shrimp, (peeled, deveined, shells reserved)
- 11 oz fish balls
- 7 oz fried tofu puffs, (halved)
- 1 pound rice noodles
- bean sprouts, (blanch in boiling water for 45 seconds)
- lime wedges
- Soak dried red chili peppers in hot water for 20 minutes. Reserve 3-4 tbsp of liquid. Soak dried shrimp in hot water for 10 minutes. Drain.
- In a food processor, pulse all laksa paste ingredients and 3-4 tbsp of dried chili pepper soaking liquid until smooth. Heat 4 tbsp of oil in a skillet, cook the paste, keep stirring for about 4-5 minutes over medium high or until the oil separates from the paste. Set aside.
- In a large pot over high heat, add chicken and enough water to cover the meat. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot, transfer it to a plate, and discard all liquid.
- In a large clean pot, heat 3 tbsp of oil over high heat. Add shrimp shells and cook, keep stirring for 4-5 minutes. Add broth and drumsticks. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium-low, simmer gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.
- Remove the shrimp shells from the pot. Add laksa paste, fish sauce, and sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add coconut milk, tofu, and fish balls. Simmer until they are warm throughout for 10-15 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until they are fully cooked for about 3 minutes. Adjust seasoning with salt, sugar, or fish sauce if needed.
- Serve with rice noodles, fish balls, shredded chicken, tofu, bean sprouts, cilantro, lime wedges, and sambal.