Friday, 6 November 2009

Mussel Re:Laksa

Following on from the pun-tastic Ham Hockusai, I thought I’d stick with the Oriental theme and attack the laksa. As ever, I hadn’t really appreciated what I was letting myself in for. Laksa, far from being a simple dish, is pretty complicated. For starters there are two distinct types: curry laksa which tends to be a coconut curry with noodles and asam laksa which is a sour fish soup with noodles (and not a type of tea).

It is commonly found across China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and increasingly across Australia. It derives a lot of its flavour from ground, dried shrimps.

I decided to make a curry laksa sticking relatively closely to a very authentic recipe I found, shamefully, on Delia’s website!

I bought my mussels from Moxon’s just outside Clapham South tube station and went in search of the other key ingredients in Balham where I managed to find everything except dried shrimp paste. Bugger.

After some excellent suggestions from Lizzie, Essex Gourmet and Kelsie Mortimer decided to mash up some prawns with a dash of anchovy essence, Worcester Sauce and lemon juice. It’s clearly not ideal, but it seemed to do the trick!

Here’s how I made my mussel and prawn laksa:

Empty a kilo of mussels into a colander and run under cold water. Pull out their beards and give them a good rinse. Leave them on the side as you’ll only need them a fair bit later.
Then you need to make your spicy paste. To do this grab a handful of chillies, two stems of lemon grass, a few shallots, a spoonful of turmeric, a knob of galangal (or ginger) and your home made shrimp paste (or better still, the real deal if you can find it). Add some liquid and blitz this in a blender and you’ll be left with a wonderfully orange, fragrant, spicy paste that will be the base of your laksa.

Paste frying small

Then toast a handful of nuts in a hot wok so that they turn golden. Remove them and then fry your paste in a glug of vegetable or groundnut oil. The aromas should almost knock the pan out of your hand. Let this sizzle for a couple of minutes and then add a can of coconut milk and the same amount of chicken stock.

Mussels simmering small

Allow this to simmer for 10 minutes and then add the mussels, a pack of prawns and enough vermicelli noodles for two. When they are almost done add half a bag of beansprouts and scatter with half of the toasted nuts. Season and then ladle into deep bowls.
Garnish with a wedge of lime, some crushed toasted nuts and Vietnamese mint if you’ve got it.

Mussel Re Laksa small

Mussel Laksa small

It was comforting, spicy, vibrant and a joy to eat. Slurping and guzzling sounds are a sure fire sign of culinary satisfaction! I sank back in my seat and sighed. Muscle relaxer indeed.


The Cooking Ninja said...

Oooh..I love curry laksa. I'm from Singapore :) If u ever get the dried prawn paste called belachan (in Singapore n Malaysia), it's worth it bcos it's what give that extra punch in the aroma. :) And check with the Asian store if they have laksa leaves (Vietnamese coriander). Sprinkle some of this chopped laksa leaves on it and it will give laksa that distinct flavour and heighten the aroma.

Browners said...

@The Cooking Ninja - Thanks so much for your tips. You're a star. I'll stock up for next time.

Lizzie said...

Loving the puns! There's nothing more comforting than a bowl of noodle soup. I've never made a laksa; looks like I'm missing out...

Faithful Foodie said...

Hi, i've just created a new website for UK food lovers, where you can share food recipes, food articles and food video's. I am looking for members to submit some content before the site goes live. I would be gratefull if you could have a look nd maybe help me out by submiting some articles or recipes.

Luke Williams
(Faithful Foodie)

Browners said...

@Lizzie - I'm all over the puns at the moment. And this laksa was a lot of fun to make and v. tasty. Give it a bash.

nsalba said...

Laksa is big over here in my city Kuching. An estimated (ok, its my guesstimate) 99.9% of the city folks are addicted to this dish. But mind you, its "Sarawak Laksa", not curry laksa, not asaam laksa. Get a clearer picture at my blog:

and my website:


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