It is the Singapore National Day today. What better way is there than to celebrate this day with a bowl of Singapore laksa, one of our nations’ favourite dishes?
There are many different versions of laksa found in Singapore and Malaysia. The few popular ones include Penang laksa, which has asam as an ingredient and is hence slightly more tangy and sour in taste; Katong laksa which has the thick vermicelli noodles snipped into short lengths that can be scooped up using the spoon, and the common version of laksa that is commonly sold in the hawker centres and foodcourts. Laksa basically makes use of a spicy rempah that is blended from a mixture of fresh chillies, dried chillies, lemongrass, dried shrimps and belacan and cooked in a prawn stock and coconut milk. Hence it’s irresistable fragrant, especially the gravy. A lot of other dishes, such as yong tao foo, nowadays would include laksa gravy as an option for its soup base as well – my all-time favourite!
The other thing to look out for when you order a bowl of laksa is the amount of cockles, or what we call ‘see-ham’, that the store owner adds into the bowl of laksa. The more the better and yummier of course.
Since this is a home-made attempt (and a really strenous one), I decided to make us a holly good treat and bought a whole kilogram of cockles to eat with our laksa. What a treat! Best in Singapore and JB.
And with this, I would like to give toast to our nation for coming a long way to celebrate its fifty-fifth birthday. Happy birthday Singapore! May we all prosper and grow together to build a united and strong country together.
- Cooking oil: 3 tbsp + 200ml
- Prawn heads and shells: 600g (I used about 30 prawns)
- Boiling water: 4 cups
- Shallot: 300g, peeled and washed
- Garlic: 5 cloves
- Fresh chilli: 5, deseeded and sliced
- Dried chilli: 20, soaked in hot water for 20min, sliced
- Lemongrass (stems only): 3 stalks, sliced
- Candlenuts: 6
- Fresh tumeric: 20g (I used 1 tsp ground tumeric instead)
- Blue ginger/galangal: 80g, sliced
- Water: 1/4 cup
- Coriander powder: 1 tbsp
- Belacan: 20g, roasted at 180 degrees for 10min
- Dried shrimp: 70g, soaked in hot water f0r 20min, blended (reserve water for adding into stock)
- Coconut milk: 1.2 litres
- Sugar: 1 tbsp
- Fish sauce: 2 tbsp
- Salt: to taste
- Tofu puffs: 100g, sliced into chunks
- Thick vermicelli noodles: 500g
- Bean sprouts: 100g
- Prawns: 6
- Fish cake: 200g, sliced
- Hardboiled egg: 3, halved
- Cockles: 1kg, blanched in boiling water till shells start to open up (remove quickly before it overcooks)
- Laksa leaves: 1 stalk, finely chopped
- Heat 3 tbsp oil in wok. Fry prawn heads and shells till dry and fragrant.
- Add boiling water to cover prawns. Bring to a boil.
- Squash heads and shells. Simmer for 1hr.
- In the meantime, blend together shallots, garlic, fresh and dried chillies, lemongrass, candlenuts, tumeric, blue ginger and 1/4 cup water.
- Blend in coriander powder and belacan.
- Heat 200ml oil in wok. Add blended chilli paste and fry over low heat till dark red (25 – 30min), stirring continuously.
- Add in dried shrimp. Fry 5min.
- Transfer the paste into the stock pot. Bring to a boil.
- Add in coconut milk. Stir in sugar, fish sauce and salt to taste.
- Add in tofu puffs, Boil 5min on low heat.
- Add thick vermicelli noodles and bean sprouts to blanch in stock. Scoop out and set into 6 dishes.
- Cook prawns and fish cake in stock. Scoop out and place on top of noodles.
- Top with hardboiled eggs and cockles.
- Scoop laksa gravy into bowls.
- Garnish with laksa leaves to serve.
Depending on your preference, you can add more stock and less coconut milk for a gravy that is not so thick.
Strain the stock after step 8 if your stock gets too thick with the chilli paste so as to achieve a clearer and thinner consistency.
I prefer to blanch my noodles and ingredients in the laksa gravy as well as I feel it makes the noodles a lot more flavourful and tastier as well.
Serve it with an additional scoop of chilli for an even spicier kick!
It is really a very effortful dish to make, so plausibly worth the money to pay between $3 to $5 to eat outside instead.
- This version of laksa tends toward the Katong laksa version, and if you would like to, you can use a pair of scissors to snip up the noodles so that you can use a spoon to scoop it up without the need for any chopsticks.