Chicken and Prawn Laksa
I just can’t seem to get enough chilli this week. I’ve been eating it until my eyes have watered and my nose has gone runny. But yet, I still want more. Tonight, for dinner, I made chicken and prawn laksa – a deliciously hot and spicy soup, speckled with fiery red chillies, hot curry paste and mellowed out with coconut milk and lime juice. It was AMAZING!
I vividly remember the first time I had laksa. It was around 8 years ago and after finishing uni, I took a gap year to go travelling round Australia. I was about six weeks into my trip and I had just spent the last couple of weeks travelling through the outback in a drafty rust bucket of a camper van. We had just arrived in Melbourne, all feeling tired, cold and absolutely ravenous. There was much excitement as we drove over the Yarra River into the bustling hub of city life. It felt good to be back in a populated area! It felt even better knowing we had so many wonderful restaurants at our disposal – we had after all spend the last two weeks grilling sausages and burgers on a gas camping stove.
We ended up in a little Malaysian eatery on Swanston Street. It didn’t look much from the outside and kind of resembled a school canteen on the inside with its long tables and benches. I ordered prawn laksa, which to be honest, I had never heard of and only picked because I was in the mood for soup. I’m not sure what I was expecting but when a big steaming bowl of hot spicy broth arrived, I was over the moon. As a bonus they also brought out little plates filled with garnishes – freshly chopped chilli, handfuls of chopped coriander, wedges of lime and bean sprouts – so that you could tailor it to your liking. That first mouthful, it was like nothing I had ever tasted before. That day I fell in love with laksa, and I love it just as much to this very day.
2 chicken breasts, grilled and thinly sliced
150g raw king prawns, peeled and deveined
1 large red chilli, seeds removed and finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
2 tbsps Thai red curry paste
2 tbsps smooth peanut butter (this is not an authentic laksa ingredient but I like the sweetness it gives to the soup)
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp sugar
1 tin coconut cream (use the really thick stuff, if using coconut milk double the quantity and reduce amount of chicken stock)
1000ml chicken stock
100g bean sprouts
300g ribbon rice noodles
2 handfuls chopped coriander, plus extra to serve
Lime wedges, to serve
Heat the oil in a large soup pot, add the chopped chill and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Next add in the curry paste, peanut butter, fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice and sugar and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the coconut cream and chicken stock and mix well. Add in the sliced chicken, rice noodles and bean sprouts. Cook on high for 10 minutes. Add the raw prawns for the last 2 minutes of cooking. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped coriander.
Spoon into deep bowls and garnish with some extra coriander and wedges of lime.