One of the dishes I had in Singapore over 30 years ago was a delicious mix of egg noodles and fried tofu chunks in red spicy broth garnished with prawns, mungbean sprouts, and sliced boiled eggs. I didn't remember the name of the dish and have forgotten about it. A few Top Chef seasons ago I recognized the dish when a cheftestant prepared something similar which she called Laksa (the judges deemed her version of the dish awful BTW). I immediately looked for a recipe in my ancient Singaporean cookbook but didn't find one. Thankfully ready made spice pastes from Malaysia are now available at the Asian groceries and the paste makes superb Laksa just like the one I had in Singapore.
If you want to make the spice paste from scratch, here is a recipe I adapted from one I found online. I made it once and it is very good but I prefer the convenience of the prepared spice paste.
10 fresh long red hot chili pepper, chopped
8 purple shallots, chopped
1-inch piece fresh galangal, peeled and chopped
1-inch piece ginger, chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
1 teaspoon belacan or gapi (shrimp paste)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
- Place ingredients in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Set aside ½ cup and keep the rest in a jar in the refrigerator or freezer.
1 tablespoon oil
½ cup spice paste
1 can coconut milk, or low-fat yogurt
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
fried tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound cooked peeled prawns
cooked fresh egg noodles
mungbean sprouts, blanched
boiled eggs, quartered
Vietnamese mint leaves
chopped red hot chili, optional
- In a wok or saucepan, heat the oil and stir fry the paste until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and broth and bring to a boil. Add the tofu and let simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Divide (warm) noodles into 4 serving bowls. Ladle the soup on top of noodles, arrange pieces of tofu, cooked prawns, eggs, bean sprouts, mint leaves, and chopped chili.