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Mixed Seafood Laksa
Yield: 8 servings

1 lb prawns
1 lb fish fillets
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
4 oz crab meat or 2 crabs, cooked and cut into pieces
5 Tbsp oil
8 cups water
2 tsp salt
1 lb rice vermicelli (rice sticks)
1 lb fresh bean sprouts
1 large cucumber, peeled and coarsely grated
8 spring onions (scallions)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, firmly packed

2 med onions, quartered, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp grated lemon rind, finely chopped
2 tsp Laos powder (kha)
8 candlenuts, finely grated
6 dried chillies, seeds removed
2 tsp dried shrimp paste (blacan)
2 tsp ground turmeric
4 tsp ground coriander

8 cups coconut milk
2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

Shell and devein prawns, reserving shells and heads. Drain these
thoroughly. Remove any bones and skin from fish fillets and using
a chopper, chop very finely. Mix in the salt and pepper and shape
into small balls, or into a sausage-shaped roll and divide into
finger-width slices. Pick over crab meat and discard any bony
tissue, or chop the whole crabs into pieces after removing top
shell and fibrous tissue.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a saucepan and when very hot throw in
the prawn heads and shells and fry until they turn bright red.
Add 8 cups water and 2 teaspoons salt, cover and simmer 20-30
minutes, then strain. Discard shells and heads. Return the stock
to the fire, drop in the fish balls or slices and the prawns, cut
into pieces if large. Return to the boil, then lower heat and
simmer for 3-4 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Scald the rice vermicelli by pouring boiling water over it, then
allow it to drain in a colander. Or soak it in warm water for 5-10
minutes, drain well. Scald the bean sprouts by pouring boiling
water over. Rinse in cold water, washing off any loose skins.
Pinch off straggly tails. Slice spring onions finely, roughly chop
mint leaves. Set aside each ingredient separately until serving

Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil and fry the onions, garlic, and
lemon rind until onions are golden. Stir in the laos powder,
candlenuts, chillies, blacan, turmeric and coriander. Add the
prawn stock and when the soup comes to the boil add the coconut
milk, sugar, and salt. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15
minutes, stirring to prevent coconut milk curdling.

In each bowl, arrange a ladle of the vermicelli, enough to two-thirds
fill the bowl. Add a handful of bean sprouts, a tablespoon each
of cucumber, and sliced spring onions. Add also a large pinch of
mint. Pour the boiling soup over and serve immediately. A hot
sambal can be served along with this for individuals to add to
their portion if desired. Serves 8-10.


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