How to make it: Mandy Yin's king prawn laksa recipe

The Kuala Lumpur-born chef-owner of north London's Sambal Shiok reveals how she makes this spicy soup. Plus, we share Michael Raffael's spicy sambal recipe.

By Mandy Yin
photographs by Tara Fisher
Published 8 Apr 2019, 23:52 BST
King Prawn Laksa

Mandy Yin's laksa is a mix of the Peranakan curry laksa and Assam laksa, from Malaysia's north.

Photograph by Tara Fisher

Laksa evokes strong memories in Malaysians. I was born in Kuala Lumpur and my father is a Peranakan from Malacca, so my laksa is the spicy version I had there. It's a mix of the Peranakan curry laksa and Assam laksa, from the north.

Laksa is quite specific to Malaysia — you do get versions across Southeast Asia but, although I'm biased, I don't think any are as good as ours. This probably owes a lot to the shrimp paste we use. It's labour-intensive to make, with a long list of ingredients that aren't cheap. But people love it.


Serves: 6
Takes: 1hr 30mins


1.5L chicken stock
2 lemongrass stalks
2 x 400g tins coconut milk
7 tbsp dark brown sugar, plus extra to taste
100g of laksa leaves (or fresh coriander and mint)
3 tbsp tamarind paste
12 deep-fried tofu puffs, halved (these can be bought at Asian supermarkets)
120g beansprouts
120g green beans, cut into 5cm lengths
24 raw king prawns, peeled and deveined
400g cooked fresh egg noodles
For the spice paste
15 dried chillies
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
7-8cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves, peeled
3 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
50g shrimp paste
3 tbsp ground coriander
3 tbsp chilli powder
1½ tbsp ground cumin
1½ tbsp ground turmeric
80ml oil


1. Soak the dried chillies in hot water for 30 mins. Drain, then add to a food processor with all of the other spice paste ingredients except the oil; blend to a smooth, fine paste.
2. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Add the paste and cook for 30 mins, stirring constantly, until it's a rich, red-brown and the oil separates from the paste. For maximum flavour, you can leave it in the fridge for 24 hours.
3. In a saucepan, bring the stock to the boil. Pound the lemongrass using a pestle and mortar to release the juices, then add to the stock along with the spice paste, coconut milk, sugar, laksa leaves, tamarind and 2 tbsp salt. Simmer over a low-medium heat for 15 mins, then remove the leaves and lemongrass, adjust the sugar and salt to taste, then simmer for a further 15 mins. Add the tofu puffs for the last 10 mins.
4. Meanwhile, blanch the following in a pan of boiling water one after the other: beansprouts for 30 secs, green beans for 3 mins and prawns for 90 secs. Refresh in cold water to halt the cooking, then drain.
5. Divide the egg noodles, beansprouts, green beans and prawns between 6 bowls. Pour over the broth, finish with 4 halved tofu puffs each and serve steaming hot.

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