Curry Laksa (Curry Mee) is a delicious spicy curried noodle soup with a variety of toppings. This is my family’s version found mainly in the Klang Valley and its surrounding areas.
Curry Laksa (Curry Mee) is one of the signature dishes of the Malaysian Chinese community. It comes in various versions from mild to spicy with different toppings, depending on region. The common theme is the coconut milk base curried soup with noodles.
This dish is simply known as curry mee in the northern part of Malaysia. On the island of Penang, the toppings may include coagulated blood cakes, cockles, cuttlefish, and sliced hard boiled eggs. The soup has a whiter/paler color and fried chili paste is added to give it that fiery appearance. In the central Perak region where the Cantonese people with milder palates predominates, fish cakes and yong tau foo (stuffed vegetables) are common toppings. The soup also tends to be lighter in consistency.
The soup in the central and southern Nyonya laksa culture (i.e. Klang Valley and southwards) is thick and fiery. Toppings include shredded chicken, fried tofu, bean sprouts, mint leaves, and fried chili paste complete with limau kasturi (calamondin, a kind of lime). Home cooks usually add shrimp to the mix. Cockles which was the norm in the old days are seldom ever seen nowadays. In Melaka, daun kesum (polygonum) is often added to the curry soup.
The recipe I am sharing today is a family recipe using curry powder, an ingredient that is almost always found in my mom’s as well as in my own pantry. In the old days, grandma made her own curry paste by grinding the spices using a batu giling (grind stone). I tried but never quite mastered the technique as a kid. Nowadays, batu gilings are a rarity and I do not have one to practice with. Blame it on the blender!
Fresh noodles are preferred if they are available. I had to use dried yellow noodles as the supply of fresh noodles to the Midwest at this time of the year is erratic. A mix of yellow noodles and beehoon (rice vermicelli) is often used in Curry Laksa. Beehoon is delicious because it easily soaks up all the delicious sauce.
- ⅓ cup (80ml) vegetable oil
- 2 bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
- 3 pandan leaves, shredded and knotted
- 12 oz (340g) bean sprouts, trimmed
- 6 oz (170g) beehoon (dried rice vermicelli), soak in warm water for 30 minutes to soften
- 12 oz (225g) fresh or dried yellow noodles
- 8 oz (225g) shrimps, peeled and deveined
- 1 can (14 oz/400ml) coconut milk
- 4 oz (113g) deep fried tofu, sliced
- Salt to taste
- 5 shallots, peeled and halved
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled, and halved
- 3 dried chilies, seeded and soaked in hot water to soften
- 1 stalk lemon grass, slice bottom third into rings
- 1½ inch ginger, peeled and thickly sliced
- ½ cup (50g) curry powder
- ½ cucumber, julienned
- 3 to 4 sprigs mint leaves, stems removed
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 4 to 6 teaspoons fried chili paste
- Blend all spice paste ingredients with ¼ cup (60ml) water until smooth. Pour mixture into a bowl. Mix with curry powder to form a thick paste.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir fry spice paste until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add chicken breasts and cook until opaque, about 3 minutes.
- Pour in 6 cups (1.4 liters) water. Add pandan leaves. Cover and bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes.
- In the meantime, fill a separate pot half full of water. Bring to a boil. Scald bean sprouts for about 20 seconds. Remove with a metal strainer.
- Add beehoon (dried rice vermicelli) and cook for 2 minutes. Remove with metal strainer.
- Cook fresh yellow noodles in boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes and dried yellow noodles for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove with metal strainer. Set aside.
- Remove chicken breasts from curry soup with tongs. When cool enough to handle, shred meat and discard bones.
- Lower shrimps into curry soup with a metal strainer. Allow shrimps to cook for 3 to 4 minutes until shrimps curl and turn pink. Remove and set aside.
- Pour coconut milk into soup. Add deep fried tofu and season with salt. Bring it up to a boil and allow coconut milk to heat through. Turn off heat.
- Place a portion of noodles, bean sprouts, some shredded chicken, and shrimps in a bowl. Pour curry soup over noodles and vegetables. Garnish with cucumber and mint leaves.
- Serve Immediately with fried chili paste and lime wedges.