This Malaysian spicy coconut noodle soup is not only one of the most loved noodle soups in Australia, it is one of the most comforting noodle dishes of them all. This vegan version features a homemade paste which is as easy as throwing all the aromatics into a blender or food processor and whizzing them up. Make it spicier by increasing the amount of dried chilli flakes or sambal oelek.
1 can (400ml) coconut milk
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp sea salt
juice of ½ lime plus 1 whole, quartered lime for serving
300g hokkien or fresh egg noodles
100g rice vermicelli
100g tofu puffs (or extra firm tofu), sliced diagonally into triangles
120g kale leaves
100g bean sprouts
handful crispy fried shallots/onions
handful of coriander leaves
finely sliced red chilli (optional)
4 eschalots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
20g (2.5cm piece) ginger, peeled and sliced
2 stalks lemongrass (soft white stem only), sliced
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp dried red chilli flakes
1 tbsp sambal oelek (Indonesian chilli paste)
4 curry leaves (dried or fresh), roughly sliced
3 makrut lime leaves, roughly sliced
3 tbsp vegetable oil
35g (about 1 cup) coriander (stems and leaves)
1. To make the laksa paste, add all the paste ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until it is smooth. Heat a large pot on medium-low, add the paste and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until it is fragrant and starting to stick to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the coconut milk, vegetable stock, sugar and season with 2 teaspoons of sea salt. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Squeeze in the juice of ½ lime and taste. If it's too sweet, add another pinch of salt.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and add both types of noodles (hokkien/fresh egg noodles usually have the same cooking time, but if you're not sure check the times on the package) and cook according to packet instructions. When the noodles are al dente, drain, refresh in cold water and drain again. Divide the noodles into 4 bowls.
3. Add the tofu puffs and kale to the broth and cook for 30 seconds until the leaves are bright green. Ladle the broth over the noodles. Top with bean sprouts, crispy fried shallots/onions, coriander leaves, lime wedge and fresh chilli, if using.