Malaysian Prawn and Coconut Laksa with Rice Vermicelli


Malaysian prawn and coconut laksa nods to several countries; the ingredients are slung together in a curry with vermicelli, offered with shallots, cucumber, and dill.


  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, coarsely ground

  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, coarsely ground

  • 2 fresh lemongrass stalks, bottom 5 inches only, chopped

  • 6 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves, shredded, or 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest

  • 1 piece (2 inches) peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped

  • 4 shallots, coarsely chopped, plus more sliced for serving

  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

  • 4 small fresh Thai chiles

  • 3 large dried mild red chiles, seeded and soaked until soft

  • 10 ounces rice vermicelli or other thin rice noodles

  • cup unsalted peanuts, coarsely ground

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce

  • 2 cans (14 ounces each) coconut milk

  • 1 ¾ cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken, fish, or vegetable stock

  • 12 prawns or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail left intact

  • Juice of 1 lime

  • 1 bunch fresh dill, coarsely chopped


  1. Working in batches, pound peppercorns, coriander seeds, lemongrass, and lime leaves with a mortar and pestle until beginning to break down. Add ginger, shallots, garlic, and chiles; pound until a coarse paste forms. Alternatively, pulse ingredients in a food processor.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles; cook according to package instructions, about 3 minutes. Drain.

  3. Heat a wok or large pan over medium-high heat. Add peanuts; cook, tossing occasionally, until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Add oil; heat until hot but not smoking. Add peppercorn paste; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and darkened, 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. Add fish sauce, coconut milk, and stock; bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add prawns; cook, stirring occasionally, until prawns are cooked through, 3 to 7 minutes. Stir in lime juice, noodles, and half of the dill. Divide among 6 serving bowls. Serve with remaining dill and sliced shallot, cucumber, chiles, and scallions.

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