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Mom's Sarawak Laksa with Homemade Laksa Paste

This is my Mom's recipe for homemade Malaysian-style laksa noodles, with a flavourful scratch-made paste. Rice vermicelli noodles and toppings swim in a rich, bright and fragrant broth.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian, Malaysian, Southeast Asian
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 290kcal
Author Michelle | Sift & Simmer


Laksa Paste:

  • 5 small red Thai chilies (bird's eye) stalks removed
  • 4 shallots or 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh galangal blue ginger, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass cut into large chunks
  • 6 candlenuts (or you can use macadamia nuts or a handful of cashew nuts if you can't find candlenut)
  • 2 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoon (50g) tamarind pulp + ¾ C warm water (or if using tamarind paste, depending on how runny the tamarind paste is, use 4-6 tablespoon and omit the water)
  • 2 tablespoon avocado oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder Malaysian-style
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoon sea salt

Soup base:

  • 4 C chicken broth add more if you prefer it more soupy
  • 1 can coconut milk

Toppings for laksa:

  • 1 pkg rice vermicelli noodles (fine) cooked and drained
  • 2 seasoned chicken breasts cooked and shredded
  • 12 large shrimp/prawns boiled and sliced in half
  • 4 large eggs scrambled and cooked omelette-style, cut into thin strips
  • 1 pkg tofu puffs boiled and drained
  • 1 cucumber julienned
  • 1 pkg bean sprouts washed and lightly cooked with hot boiled water
  • 2 limes cut into wedges
  • laksa leaves (rau ram, Vietnamese coriander) cut into thin strips
  • red Thai chilies optional
  • belacan (fermented shrimp paste) optional


Make the laksa paste:

  • In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine the red Thai chilies, shallots, ginger, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, candlenuts (or macadamia/cashew), coriander, cumin, tamarind paste, warm water, and oil. Pulse until a smooth paste is formed.
  • Transfer the pureed paste into a large pot and cook over medium heat for about 30-40 minutes, until fragrant, stirring intermittently.
  • Once the paste is nutty in aroma and has thickened significantly, add in the sugar, curry powder, paprika, and salt, and cook for another 5 minutes. Again, stirring every so often.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • If not using the paste right away, let the laksa paste completely cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week, or freezer for up to 6 months.

Make the laksa soup:

  • To the laksa paste, add in 4 C of chicken broth and 1 can coconut milk. Stir and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  • If the consistency of the soup is a little too thick, add a little more chicken broth or water. Keep the soup hot for serving.


  • Place the cooked rice vermicelli noodles into a serving bowl. Top with shredded chicken, shrimp, egg, tofu puffs, cucumber, and bean sprouts.
  • Ladle the hot soup over top of the noodles. Add a squeeze of lime over top and garnish with laksa leaves (rau ram), additional Thai chilies and belacan (if desired).
  • Serve immediately.



To make lighter work, make the laksa paste ahead of time.
Laksa paste can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 6 months.


Calories: 290kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 139mg | Sodium: 1501mg | Potassium: 536mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 299IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 5mg