Malay cuisine is a mash-up of local Chinese, Thai and Indian influences, which makes their soups, curries and noodles dazzle with exotic spices, creamy coconut and hot chillies. What distinguishes laksa paste from red curry is the use of nuts. Traditionally it's candlenuts, but they're tricky to source so I use macadamias.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 macadamia nuts
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 75 g (21/2 oz) yellow or red curry paste
  • 250 ml (81/2 fl oz) chicken stock
  • 1 x 400 g (14 oz) tin coconut milk 
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 tbsp tamarind purée
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 150 g (5 oz) green beans, chopped 
  • 200 g (7 oz) large raw prawns
  • 200 g (7 oz) thin rice vermicelli 
  • 100 g (31/2 oz) pineapple
  • large handful, each chopped, coriander (cilantro) and mint leaves 
  • Pickled red chilli and shallots and crispy fried shallots, to serve

METHOD

  1. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the macadamia nuts to a fine paste. 
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil and add the curry paste and crushed macadamia nuts. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the stock, coconut milk, spices, tamarind, palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, then add the beans and prawns. Simmer for 2–3 minutes and remove from the heat. 
  3. Pour boiling water over the rice noodles and leave for 2 minutes or until soft. 
  4. Cut the pineapple into 2 cm (3⁄4 inch) batons. 
  5. Divide the noodles among four large bowls and ladle the laksa over. Top with the pineapple, chopped coriander and mint, and pickled red chilli and shallots. Serve with crispy fried shallots. 

*NOTE

The taste of this soup relies on using good stock, so it is worth making the Master Asian chicken stock. If you’re short on time, make the stock in a pressure cooker. It takes about 30 minutes and you end up with stock that would normally require at least 2 hours to cook. You can also use a good-quality bought chicken stock.

Images and recipes from My Asian Kitchen by Jennifer Joyce, Murdoch Books, RRP $39.99

Photography by Phil Webb, Illustrations by Riley Joyce’.