Curry Laksa With Shrimp: From Skyscrapers To Brownstones

Laksa With Condiments

Curry laksa is a spicy, coconut-based noodle soup and a popular street food in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. It is a warm, rustic dish that tempts you into going back for more, since each bite is slightly different from and equally, if not more, flavorful than the last.

I ate laksa for the first time this past December in Dubai, while visiting my parents. It was at the tail-end of my vacation and we had spent the afternoon at the largest mall in the world shopping, not for Gucci/Prada/Cartier but, for oatmeal for my father. Peckish from walking around the only organic store in the city, we stumbled across a restaurant with outside seating and an interesting menu. Before I knew it, I was sitting under the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, enjoying the warm desert breeze, appreciating this moment with my parents, and sipping a delectable soup called curry laksa.

Shrimp Curry Laksa

I make it a point to visit my parents in Dubai at least once a year. It’s usually the only time I see them and these weeks with them are precious. An ocean separates us the rest of the year, intensifying the importance of our time spent together. I am grateful for casual moments, like lunch at a mall, where I can forget that I’ll soon be boarding a plane and we’ll all be another year older before we see each other again. It is in these moments where I can pretend for a fleeting second that my time with them is endless. And it is in these moments I find myself savoring every minute detail about everything around us, including the food. So it’s not surprising that I vividly remember that laksa and have been eager to recreate it.

Curry Laksa With Shrimp

Guided by my palate, I mixed and matched laksa recipes that I found online and added my own twists to create my perfect version of the dish. There are a few types of laksas but the only one I’ve eaten and liked is made with coconut milk and shrimp. The coconut adds a creamy richness to the broth and a welcome balance to the spices in the laksa paste.

I’m a fiend for condiments and added a few to the recipe: fried shallots for their bitter crunch; lime for its tangy sourness; bok choy for its bitter green flavor; a raw chili paste (sambal oelek) for a bright chili flavor; sprouts for a juicy crunch; and mint as a built in palate cleanser with its fresh, cooling taste. Laksa is normally made with shrimp paste or dried shrimp but I had neither on hand. Next time I make this, I’ll make sure to use some. I served the soup over a bed of rice noodles and little bowls of the condiments. That way I can keep adding layers of flavor to the soup as I eat it.

Curry Laksa Soup

Today, a pot of this soup simmers on my stove as I look out my window. While the skyscrapers of Dubai have been replaced with snow-covered brownstones, I can feel the warmth of that afternoon and I imagine my parents sitting across from me, casually talking about oatmeal and organic markets, and the scent of the laksa makes my mouth water in anticipation.

Wishing you warm spicy soup memories,

A printable list of ingredients and directions are at the end of this post,
along with an image of this Perfect Morsel.

Laksa Spices

Using a mortar and pestle or a blender, coarsely grind all the spices to make the laksa paste.

Laksa Paste

Place spice mixture in a small bowl, stir in oil and set aside.

Shallots: Laksa

Peel and chop the shallots.

Chopped Shallots for Laksa

Set aside 4 of the shallots for the soup and 2 of the shallots for the fried shallot condiment seen later in the recipe.

Lemongrass For Laksa

Rinse the lemongrass to remove any dirt. Chop off the root end near the bulb and discard. Cut the lemongrass into 1 inch pieces. Set aside. Remove skins of garlic and ginger, and finely chop. Set aside.

Onions and Laksa Paste

Heat 4 of the 5 tablespoons of oil in a medium to large sized pot over medium heat. Add shallots, garlic & ginger. Stir for 10 minutes. Add laksa paste and stir for 1 minute.

Lemongrass, Cinnamon, Laksa Paste

Add cinnamon and lemongrass, and stir for 5 minutes.

Laksa Soup

Pour chicken stock and coconut milk to the pot along with the fish sauce, white pepper and salt. Stir and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Feel free to add up to a cup of water if the stock seems thick.

Ladle of Lemongrass

Using a slotted spoon or ladle, remove the large pieces of lemongrass and cinnamon.

Shrimp for Laksa

Add the shrimp and stir for 5 minutes or till shrimp are cooked. The soup is ready to be served.

Fried Shallots for Laksa

Fried Shallots: Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a small pan on high heat. Add remaining shallots from Step 2 and stir till brown and fried. Place on a paper towel to drain the oli and set aside.

Bok Choy for Laksa

Bok choy: Clean and half the bok choy. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add bok choy and stir for 1 minute. Strain bok choy and set aside.

Sprouts for Laksa

Sprouts: Rinse sprouts. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add sprouts and stir for 1 minute. Strain sprouts and set aside.

Sambal Oelek, Mint, Lime for Laksa

Mint: Lightly rinse mint. Pull mint leaves and place in a bowl. Set aside. Place quartered limes and sambal oelek in individual bowls and set aside.

Curry Laksa Soup With Shrimp

Place rice noodles in a bowl with some bok choy, pour soup with shrimp over each bowl and serve with small bowls of condiments. Garnish each soup bowl however you please and sip away!

Curry Laksa: Perfect Morsel

Here’s perfect morsel of the curry laksa just the way I like it.



  1. Neena says

    When fond memories flavor your dishes they can only be unforgettable my dear one.
    This looks delicious and I,m sure we all will enjoy making it and reliving a wonderful afternoon spent together.
    Best wishes and blessings,

  2. says

    Gotta love curry Laksa. Was fortunate to try this delicious treat in Malaysia as well as sydney’s China town back in 2007. Malaysia definitely deserve being on the worlds top 10 greatest foods for its diversity.

    Keep the recipes coming;)

  3. Janey says

    I was looking for places in Dubai where I can get curry laksa and I happen to read through your page. Once I saw it on tv and realised well it’s not easy to cook a laksa. But your article/recipe on it made me think again. I am definitely gonna try your recipe! Every item is available here, except for sambal oelek. What is it? Do I get it in a store in dubai? Or can I just make my own?

    • says

      Hi Janey! It’s actually a lot easier than expected and is so incredibly flavorful. Sambal Oelek is a chili paste made from a variety of chili peppers and vinegar, garlic, ginger. You can order it online off of Amazon Dubai or buy in most of the Asian supermarkets in Deira. Otherwise I’d use any chili paste you can get your hands on. I bet it’ll be tasty either way! You can also make your own but I haven’t tried that. Great idea for another post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>