Wash the dried shrimp and soak in hot water until soft.
De-seed the red chilli and cut into small pieces and set aside.
De-seed the dried chilli and cut into small pieces. Soak in hot water until soft.
Remove the skin from the galangal, shallots and garlic.
Toast a small piece of belachan and set aside.
Rinse the laksa leaves and remove the leaves from the stalk. Cut the leaves into very fine strips. Keep the stalk for the gravy.
Remove the roots from the bean sprouts. Rinse and drain.
Wash the tau pok and squeeze dry. Cut into 4 pieces.
Place cockles in a basin filled with water and 1/2 tsp of salt. Soak for 30 minutes to purge impurities. Discard water and wash cockles a few times to remove mud until water runs clear.
Wash the prawns and set aside.
Place the rempah ingredients and shrimp water into the blender and blend finely. Transfer to a bowl.
In the same blender, blend the dried shrimp finely and transfer to a bowl.
Cooking Method - Laksa Soup
Boil 500 ml of water, then cook the prawns over high heat for a few minutes until prawns turn red and "U" shaped. Remove the prawns, and keep the prawn stock.
Peel the prawns and slice into half. Set aside the prawn heads and shells for later use.
In a wok, heat up 1 tbsp of oil. Add the chopped garlic and fry until aromatic. Then add the prawn heads and shells and fry until aromatic. While frying, use a spatula to press on heads to extract juices.
Next, add the prawn stock and boil for 10 minutes. Sieve stock and discard shells.
In a wok, heat up 250 ml of oil, then fry rempah for 30 minutes over low heat until aromatic.
Add in the ground dried shrimp and continue to fry until fragrant. While frying, add in 4 tbsp of the coconut milk a little at a time.
Next, add in the prawn stock and bring to a boil over medium low heat. Then transfer to a pot.
Add in the laksa stalks and boil for 20 mins stirring constantly, then discard stalks. Add salt to taste.
Then, add in the coconut milk and tau pok and boil over low heat for another 5 mins, stirring constantly to prevent the gravy from getting burnt. Do not cover the pot.
Cooking Method - Laksa Ingredients
Pour hot water over the cockles for 10 seconds then drain dry. Remove the cockles from the shells and refrigerate.
Peel and slice the hard boiled eggs into half.
Cut the fried fish cake into strips. If you buy fresh fish cake, you need to deep-fry it until light golden first.
In a wok, add the bean sprouts to 1 litre of room temperature water. Bring to a boil for about 2-3 minutes, then immediately sieve out the bean sprouts.
When ready to serve, bring the water to a boil again, then blanch the thick bee hoon for 1-2 minutes.
In individual bowls, add the bee hoon, bean sprouts, cockles, tau pok, fish cake slices, and half a hard boiled egg and pour the hot laksa gravy over it. Top up with laksa leaves and serve with sambal.
Fry rempah over low fire and slowly fry till aromatic, as rempah can get burnt easily.
Use tap water, not boiling water, to cook beansprouts so they will remain crunchy and not limp.
Use fresh vermicelli for best results as it is softer and smoother compared to dried versions.
Blanch cockles briefly to make them easy to open, but not too long that cockles become rubbery.
Instead of using ready-made fish cakes, you can buy fresh fish cakes from wet market (look for stalls selling raw yong tau foo) and fry them yourself.
Constantly stir gravy to prevent it from getting burnt, especially at the bottom. Do not cover pot.
Rempah can be prepared a day before. You can also make extra portions to freeze for another time. Laksa takes a lot of patience but the results are very satisfying!