Saturday, March 20, 2010

Laksa Ayam

There are times a recipe on the page sounds so much better than the dish itself. The ingredients are there; you can taste it in your mind, but when the dish hits your tongue, there's disappointment. You anticipated something more. What should have sung a high C instead hums indistinctly.

Alas, this was the case with the ayam laksa I made recently. Curry mee, curry laksa, or laksa, depending on if you hail from Ipoh, Penang, or Singapore, is one of my favorite dishes. A rich, spicy seafood coconut curry broth with noodles, tofu and beansprouts, its right up there among the top ten dishes for me. Unfortunately, my niece who lives with us is allergic to seafood, so I was looking for a variation of laksa that everyone in the house might enjoy. In fact, she and my wife did enjoy the ayam laksa very much. I, however, found it paled in comparison to what I think of when I hear the word laksa.

Laksa Ayam--Chicken Laksa
adapted from this recipe

1 lb boneless chicken thighs, sliced 1/2 thick
5 shallots, chopped
1 inch ginger, peeled and minced
4 inches laos (galingale), peeled, thinly sliced, and crushed in a mortar
1 stalk lemongrass, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced and pounded with laos
2 red chilies, minced
2 TBS oil
2 tsp Madras curry powder
2 cups chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
2 ounces rice vermicelli, softened in hot water
8 ounces fresh egg noodles, briefly cooked in boiling water
2-4 green onions, thinly sliced
laksa leaves (rau ram in Vietnamese)
boiled eggs (optional)

Heat a skillet or wok and add the oil. Fry the shallots, ginger, laos, lemongrass, and chilies until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken; cook, stirring, until the chicken becomes opaque.

Stir in curry powder, making sure it is evenly distributed. Pour in broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil and simmer on low until the chicken is tender and oils begin to separate from the broth.

To serve, place some of each noodles in individual soup bowls. Add bean sprouts. Ladle the hot broth and chicken into the bowls. Sprinkle with green onions, laksa leaves and cilantro. Add sliced boiled eggs if you like.

A squeeze of lime, some sambal ulek or sriracha sauce and/or kecap manis may be added according to personal taste.


  1. What was wrong with it? Bland?

    Looks pretty similar to a curry laksa recipe I haven't blogged yet. Except I used lots of shrimp heads and shells to make the stock first. And added some sliced fish paste.

  2. WC,
    That was it, bland, surprisingly so. Your laksa recipe sounds similar to the standard that I make, also incorporating shrimp heads and shells for the stock. And that one is so good, this one just seems weak.

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