What's for Dinner: Coconut Laksa with Shrimp

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Coconut Laksa with Shrimp

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I've made many a labor-intensive curry, only to be disappointed by a bland sauce. This dish is surprisingly simple, especially if your grocery store will peel and devein the shrimp for you (be sure to ask them to give you the shells), and the finished dish is spectacularly flavorful. Next time, I'll cut down slightly on the jalapeno and substitute a Thai chile or habenero for a spicier finish. This dish could serve eight as a first course, but for dinner, it would easily be devoured by four. Serve with a side of grilled asparagus or sauteed snow peas.

Note: Find lemongrass at specialty grocery stores.

  • 1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp (shelled and deveined, shells reserved)
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 3 large shallots, quartered
  • 4 jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce, divided
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, divided
  • 2 plump lemongrass stalks, bottom 8 inches only, outer layer removed, stalk cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 14 1/2-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 pound Thai flat rice noodles (pad thai), soaked in warm water for 10 minutes or prepared according to package directions
  • Salt, lime wedges, for serving

In a large saucepan, combine shrimp shells with onion, carrot and 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the stock is bright orange and reduced to 5 cups, about 30 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock.

In a food processor, make the seasoning paste by combining shallots, jalapenos, ginger, macadamia nuts, coriander and turmeric with 2 tablespoons of fish sauce and 2 tablespoons of canola oil; puree until smooth.

In a soup pot, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add seasoning paste and stir over moderate heat, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add lemongrass and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture darkens slightly and oil separates, about 10 minutes.

Add reserved shrimp stock, coconut milk, brown sugar and remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Simmer over moderate heat until soup is reduced to 6 cups, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook rice noodles just until pliable, about 1 minute. Drain. Transfer to 8 soup bowls.

Add shrimp to soup and cook until pink and curled, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and ladle soup over the noodles. Garnish with lime.

Makes 8 servings

-- From "Food & Wine" April 2012, by Bryant Ng, chef/owner of the Spice Table in Los Angeles, Calif.

recipes - whatsfordinner

First Published June 13, 2012 4:00 AM


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