Like so many Malaysian soups and curries, laksa starts with a spice paste of chilis, shallots, lemongrass, tumeric, ginger, belacan (shirmp paste), and candlenut.
All chopped roughly before a quick whirl in the blender.
Traditionally, the spice paste was mashed with a mortar and pestle. That's a still a good method for things like the chili-lime condiment sambal, for which a slightly rougher texture is preferred...
But in a modern kitchen, the blender is best.
That spice paste is heated with oil and left to fry, developing and concentrating the flavors.
Starting to darken
The spice paste will start to darken dramatically as it cooks. Only at this point do you add stock (prawn or chicken) to form a broth, and bring to a boil; last, the coconut milk is added, along with tofu puffs, just before serving to heat through.
You'll also need
Yellow mee and vermicelli.
Mung bean sprouts, cucumber, slices of fish cake, hard-boiled eggs, shrimp, finely sliced laksa leaf (if you can find it), and the spicy chili sauce sambal for heat. (Recipe included!)
On a base of the two kinds of noodles, layer the fish balls and mung bean sprouts...
Pour it on
Then pour over the laksa broth...
With shredded cucumber and coconut and cooked shrimp.