Pureed shrimp shells form the base of Curry Laksa, becoming one layer of flavor; another emerges as the coconut is soaked in water, the fatty flesh strained, and the liquid added; finally, the soup is emboldened by ginger, lemongrass, turmeric, and a chile.
- Servings: 6
Photography: John Blais
Source: Martha Stewart Living, December 2000
- 1 1/4 teaspoons canola oil
- 30 medium shrimp (about 1 pound), peeled and deveined, shells reserved
- 1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
- 1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 dried chile
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 shallot, peeled and halved
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 inch piece ginger, peeled, coarsely chopped
- 3 inch piece lemongrass, roughly sliced
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 6 ounces rice-stick noodles, cooked
- Scallions, sliced 1/4 inch thick, for garnish
- Mint sprigs, for garnish
Make shrimp stock: In a saucepan over medium heat, warm 1/4 teaspoon canola oil. Add shrimp shells; cook, stirring, until red, about 3 minutes. Add 5 cups water; simmer 15 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Transfer to a blender; process until a coarse liquid forms, about 1 minute. Strain, pressing on shells; reserve liquid; discard solids.
Place coconut in a bowl; cover with 3 cups boiling water; let sit until room temperature. Strain, discarding flesh; reserve liquid.
Place the shiitake mushrooms and chile in a small bowl. Cover with 3 cups boiling water, and let sit until mushrooms and chile have softened, about 20 minutes. Strain; reserve mushrooms and chile in one bowl and the soaking liquid in another.
Place onion, shallot, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and reserved mushrooms and chile in the bowl of a food processor. Process until a thick puree forms, 2 minutes; set aside.
Heat remaining teaspoon canola oil and sesame oil in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add pureed onion mixture, salt, turmeric, and coriander; fry, stirring frequently, until brown, about 8 minutes. Add reserved shrimp stock, reserved coconut liquid, and reserved mushroom liquid; simmer until slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Add shrimp; cook until pink, about 5 minutes. Add noodles; cook until heated through. Serve immediately, garnished with scallions and mint sprigs.