Laksa Singapura (Spicy Singapore Noodle Soup)

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Recipe courtesy of Nancy Josland Dalsin

from "Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass" by Wendy Hutton

12-16 fish balls
1 1/2 lb fresh round rice flour (laksa) noodles, blanched in boiling water 30 seconds
2 cups bean sprouts
13 oz cooked prawns, peeled and deveined, tails intact
12 canned or fresh quail eggs, hard boiled and peeled if fresh, hard boil for 3 minutes in salted water for easier peeling
4 large pieces deep fried dried bean curd, blanched in boiling water 1 minute, sliced
sprigs of polygonum (long-stemmed mint) to garnish (you can use cilantro)

Laksa Gravy

10-12 dried chilies, cut in 3/4 in lengths, soaked in hot water to soften
2-3 large red chilies, sliced
16 shallots, minced
2 in galangal, minced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 in ginger, minced
3 stems lemon grass, tender inner part of bottom 4 in only, sliced
3/4 in fresh turmeric or 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried shrimp paste, toasted
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons coriander, lightly toasted and ground to a powder
1/2 cup dried prawns, soaked to soften them, ground to a powder
3 cups water
4 tablespoons finely minced polygonum leaves (long stemmed mint)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, or more to taste (I used brown sugar)
3 cups coconut milk

To make the Laksa Gravy, process both lots of chilies, shallots, galangal, garlic, ginger, lemon grass, turmeric and shrimp paste to a smooth paste, adding a little oil if needed to keep the mixture turning.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the chili paste and stir fry over low moderate heat until fragrant and the oil starts to separate, about 10 minutes. Add the coriander powder and stir fry 1 minute. Add the dried prawns and stir fry 1 minute. Stir in the water, polygonum leaves, salt, and sugar. Bring to the boil, lower heat, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Add fish balls and simmer another 5 minutes. Add the coconut milk and bring almost to the boil then remove from heat.
To serve, divide the noodles and bean sprouts between four large bowls. Fill each with hot gravy, then top with prawns, fish balls, quail eggs and bean curd slices.

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