This satisfying South East Asian-inspired coconut and noodle laksa from Rachel Allen’s book ‘Soup, Broth, Bread’ is packed with flavour and totally worth the effort
FISH BALL LAKSA. IMAGE: JOANNE MURPHY
A spicy coconut-based noodle soup from South East Asia, there are probably millions of different versions of laksa. Rich and spicy, laksa can include meat, seafood or tofu, or all three, with the noodles, which can be.thin rice noodles (vermicelli noodles), thick wheat noodles, or even a combination of the two. I have travelled quite a bit around South East Asia and always try to seek out a local laksa to enjoy. One of my favourites in Malaysia is a fish ball laksa, which inspired this recipe here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I guarantee that you won’t regret spending your time making this divine bowl of deliciousness.
Fish Ball Laksa
For the fish balls
- 175 g white fish, such as round or flat fish (whatever is freshest), filleted, skinned and cut into chunks (weight when filleted and skinned)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 1/2 tsp cornflour
For the laksa paste
- 1-2 red chillies (depending on how hot you love your laksa!)
- 3 shallots (50g when peeled)
- 2 tsp peeled and chopped fresh galangal or ginger (10g in weight)
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 1 1/2 tsp shrimp paste
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tbsp water
For the broth
- 3 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
- 1 400ml tin of coconut milk
- 1 litre fish stock
- 300 g noodles, about 75g per person (see note)
- 3 tbsp fish sauce (nam pla)
- juice of 1/2 – 1 lime
- 225 g firm tofu, cut into 2cm cubes
- 75 g beansprouts
- 4 eggs, boiled for 6-7 minutes, then peeled and halved
- a small handful of coriander leaves
- crispy fried shallots
- To make the fish balls, put the chopped fish into a food processor or blender with the soy sauce and the cornflour, and blend until you have a sticky paste.
- Using clean and slightly damp hands, roll the mixture into 20 balls, each one weighing 9 or 10g each. Place on a plate or a tray and chill for at least 30 minutes, until you’re ready to cook them.
- Meanwhile, cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet. Drain, leaving a few tablespoons of the noodle liquid in with the noodles (to stop them sticking) and set aside.
- Add the fish balls to the boiling coconut broth and cook over a medium to high heat for 6–7 minutes, until they are cooked. You can cut one in half to check; it should be opaque all the way through. Add the fish sauce to season, according to your taste – you might want just 2 or 3 tablespoons but you might want more. Add lime juice to taste.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive or sunflower oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Add the tofu and fry on all sides until golden and crispy, approximately 5 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside, somewhere warm preferably.
- Put the noodles into bowls and divide out the beansprouts, placing them on top of the noodles. Pour the hot broth over the top, then divide the fish balls and the golden fried tofu among the bowls. Top with 2 halves of softly-boiled egg per bowl, sprinkle with coriander leaves and crispy fried shallots, and serve.
Extracted from Soup, Broth, Bread by Rachel Allen, Penguin Books, RRP £22