* If you don't have a fine grater, you can finely chop them. Very finely!
1. Part of the laksa experience in Sydney includes the chilli paste that is served on the side of the Laksa which I always dollop generously onto my Laksa. It is not just plain chilli, it has much more flavour. I've never found a recipe for it so have created my own. Some of it is used to add more punch to the laksa broth, and the rest is used to serve on the side.
2. I love making this with drumsticks because the flesh that falls off the bone looks and tastes like the chicken in Laksa that is served at proper Malaysian joints. Also the chicken skin adds richness to the broth. It can be made with chicken breast and thigh, poached per recipe and sliced, but it is not as authentic!
3a. Lemongrass - peel the outer layer off then use just the juicy white bit on the bottom, usually around 3-4cm / 1.5". Don't use the green reedy parts.
3b. Birds eye chillies are small red chillis that are commonly found in Australia. Around 3cm long, they are spicy! Deseed them to reduce hear - I leave the seeds in. Feel free to substitute with any spicy chilli you have.
4. My preferred Laksa Paste is called Por Kwan
(see photo in post) which is available at most Asian stores. If I'm really desperate, I use Ayam Laksa
paste available at Woolworths and Coles in Australia, but it is a bit sweeter than Por Kwan - balance it out with a bit more fish sauce or a squeeze of lime juice.
The amount of laksa paste required will depend on the brand you use - some have more intense flavours than others. Start with 1/2 cup for sautéing, then after you add the coconut milk, have a taste test and if you want a stronger flavour, add more laksa paste to taste. Also add fish sauce for saltiness.
5. My preferred is full fat coconut milk. If I'm desperate and trying to be healthy, I will use low fat. I find coconut cream too rich for me.
6. The "best" serious Laksa joints in Sydney serve laksa with both vermicelli and hokkien noodles. However, most laksa places only use vermicelli.
7. Tofu puffs are essential for a true laksa experience! They are deep fried tofu that are "sponge-like". They soak up the broth so when you bite into them, the broth squirts out in your mouth. They are sold at Asian stores and at Harris Farm Markets in Sydney, in the fridge section with the noodles. They don't need cooking, they just need to be plonked in the soup to heat up as they soak up the broth.
If you really can't find it, the laksa will still be gorgeous. Tofu puffs are more about the laksa experience rather than flavour. :)
8. Crispy fried shallots can be purchased at Coles/Woolworths in Australia and Asian grocery stores. They are crispy salt fried shallots pieces that are used to garnish laksa. I am kicking myself for forgetting to garnish my laksa with it!
9. Nutrition per giant bowl. Worth every single calorie, I swear! If you use light coconut milk, it reduces to 516 calories per serving with 34.3g fat.