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Main Course Spicy Prawn and Noodle Soup

This dish is served as a hot coconut broth with a separate platter of prawns, fish and noodles. Diners are invited to add their own choice of accompaniment to the broth.

ingredients

serves 4 - 6
25 g (1 oz) 1/4 cup raw cashew nuts
3 shallots or 1 medium onion, sliced
5 cm (2 in) lemon grass, shredded
2 garlic cloves, crushed
150 g (5 oz) laksa noodles (spaghetti-sized rice noodles), soaked for 10 minutes before cooking
30 ml (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
1 cm (1/2 in) square shrimp paste or 15 ml (1 tbsp) fish sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) mild curry paste
400 g (14 oz) can coconut milk
1/2 chicken stock cube
3 curry leaves (optional)
450 g (1 lb) white fish fillet, such as cod, haddock or whiting
225 g (8 oz) raw or cooked prawn tails, peeled
1 small Cos lettuce, shredded
115 g (4 oz) beansprouts
3 spring onions, shredded
1/2 cucumber, sliced and shredded
prawn crackers, to serve

method

1. Grind the cashew nuts with the shallots or onion, lemon grass and garlic in a mortar with a pestle or in a food processor. Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.

2. Heat the oil in a large preheated wok or saucepan, add the cashew nut mixture and stir-fry for 1 - 2 minutes, or until the nuts are just beginning to brown.

3. Add the shrimp paste or fish sauce and curry paste, followed by the coconut milk, stock cube and curry leaves, if using. Simmer for 10 minutes.

4. Cut the white fish into bite-sized pieces. Acid the fish and prawns to the simmering coconut stock and cook for 3 - 4 minutes.

5. To serve, line a large serving platter with the shredded lettuce leaves. Arrange the beansprouts, spring onions and cucumber in neat piles, together with the cooked fish and noodles. Serve the salad with a bowl of prawn crackers and the broth in a stoneware, closed-rim pot.

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