This is the only recipe you need to create the perfect bowl of Singapore Laksa – A flavour explosion of spices and creamy coconut seafood goodness!
Today we’re making Singapore Laksa, thick rice vermicelli noodles topped with a deliciously spicy, thick, coconut-y gravy soup. Laksa is a Peranakan dish, and you can find variations of this amongst the Malay and Chinese in Singapore. Laksa can also be found across Malaysia, Indonesia, and even Thailand. I might be biased, but Singapore has the best laksa for me.
There are actually two versions of laksa. The first has a coconut curry base, which is a lot more prevalent in Singapore and what I’m making today. The other version has an appetisingly sour-y, clearer soup with Asam or tamarind as one of its main ingredients.
The Laksa Spice Base Paste
Laksa looks daunting to make, but the actual process is easy. The hard part is in gathering the ingredients – and it’s a pretty long list. The bulk of the ingredients goes into the blended spice base. You can omit a couple of the ingredients, but if you want a really tasty laksa, try to find most of the ingredients.
The recipe today makes for two batches, or for 2 litres of stock. I always make extra spice paste, and store the extra in the fridge. I want to say it keeps for one week in the fridge, but I’ve kept it for longer and it was still good. Always check your paste before using; if there’s mold, or the smell is off, discard. To prolong it even more, store in the freezer.
The key ingredients that make Laksa so unique and bursting with umami flavours are the dried shrimps and belachan, or fermented dried shrimp paste. You can’t really replace this with anything else – instead of laksa, you’ll get just straight up curry.
The Prawn Stock
The stock is another important component of laksa. Without a good stock (or with just water), laksa taste unfulfilling.
I made a very basic stock, but to level up your laksa even more, make this seafood broth from my Hokkien Mee recipe. The most important step is to fry the prawn heads and shells until dry, and there is no fishy smell. Let all the liquid be drawn out, and completely evaporate. Of course, don’t burn the prawn heads, but if there’s a char, it’s perfectly fine. Your kitchen should smell like grilled prawns even.
If you don’t have prawn stock, then simply use bouillon stock cubes – anything but plain water really. In fact, it’s my go-to for my weekday cheat laksa. I used fish or ikan bilis flavoured stock cubes, but chicken will work well too.
Seafood is the typical type of protein used for laksa. Prawns, fishcakes or fishballs, and blood cockles. I did not use cockles this time round, because they were not available at the market, but I love me some blood cockles, or hum, in my laksa.
To prepare cockles, refer to my Char Kway Teow recipe video guide. Basically you have to clean, and give it a salt bath to draw out impurities. Then give it a quick blanch so it’s only semi-cooked to get the raw blood cockles effect. I always cook it through when at home though, just to be safe.
Don’t eat Seafood? Replace with Chicken
Prawns are a major component in my laksa recipe, but you can easily replace with chicken. It will cut out a couple of steps even. Simply make chicken stock, and your protein which is the chicken will also be cooked in this step. I recommend using the dark meats of the chicken such as thighs so it dries out less. Once your chicken is cooked, take it out of the chicken stock and shred to top your noodles.
Laksa has a bit of heat already, but for some spice-loving Singaporeans, we want that extra hit of chilli! I have the perfect sambal to go with laksa, check out the recipe here. It has a lot of seafood, umami flavours too which go amazingly well with Laksa. A lot of the ingredients are used in making the laksa base paste too, so it’s not that much extra ingredients you would need to hunt for.
Watch How to make Singapore Laksa
Singapore LaksaCourse: Recipes
- Laksa Spice Base Paste
100ml of Dried Chilli Paste or 10 Dried Chillies, soaked in boiling water
5 Red Chillies, chopped
1 medium Onion or 2-3 shallots
2-3 Garlic Cloves
4 Candlenuts (or use Hazelnuts/Cashew Nuts/Macadamia)
20g or 1 tbsp Ginger, chopped
20g or 1 tbsp Galangal, chopped
1 tsp Turmeric Powder or 20g or 1 tbsp Fresh Turmeric
2 Lemongrass Stalks, inner white core
20g or 1 tbsp Belachan or Fermented Dried Shrimp Paste
30g or 1 tbsp Dried Shrimps
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
- Easy Prawn Stock
300g Prawn heads and shells
1 litre Water
- Laksa Gravy
1 litre Prawn Broth
300ml Coconut Milk
2 tbsps Fish Sauce
1 tbsp Brown Sugar, or to taste
Fried Tofu Puffs or Taopok
Laksa Leaves/Vietnamese Coriander Leaves/Daun Kesum (optional)
- Noodles and Other Ingredients
Thick Vermicelli / Laksa Rice Noodles / Bee Tai Mak
Blood Cockles (i did not use this)
Bok Choy or other Asian Greens, blanched (optional)
- Prawn Stock
- In a pot, add oil and heat. Once hot, add prawn heads and shells. Saute the prawn heads and shells until all the liquid has drawn out and is dry. There should not be a fishy smell.
- Carefully add water to the prawn heads and shells. Stir through, scrape the bottom of the pot and squish heads with spatula to get prawn essence into the stock. Let it come to a boil, before turning down the heat and allow stock to simmer. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- At 30 minute to 1 hour mark, prawn stock is done. Strain stock to remove prawn heads and shells and discard. Keep stock for later.
- Laksa Spice Base Paste
- To a blender, add all of the ingredients for the laksa paste and finely blend. Add a bit of water to get a better blend if needed.
- Laksa Gravy
- To a pot add oil. Once hot, and over low heat, add the blended laksa paste. Saute over low heat continuously until the oil splits, or ‘pecah minyak’, this is when the paste has dried slightly, and the oil has turned red and floating on top of the paste.
- Add coconut milk and stir to incorporate with the paste. Let the coconut milk come to a bubbly boil, then add the prawn stock. Season with fish sauce and brown sugar and stir through.
- Add tofu puffs and laksa leaves if using, and let the laksa gravy come to a boil.
- Once gravy boils, it is done and ready to be served.
- Noodle Assembly
- Blanch the noodles according to packet instructions.
- Boil eggs, prawns and fish cake slices to cook. Blanch vegetables.
- Assemble noodles, and pour laksa gravy over. Top with eggs, prawns, fish cake and vegetables. Garnish with chopped laksa leaves and sambal.