The weather is getting cold, the snow is falling, and people are trying to stay warm. It is winter time in Minnesota, and most definitely a perfect time to cook up a batch of laksa ayam – chicken coconut milk soup. Serve this spicy chicken soup with some steamed white rice and be ready for a second or third helping.
Among the many ingredients for this laksa ayam recipe, the one that is more uncommon is terasi. Terasi is made of fermented shrimp and comes in a solid chocolate block, and be warned that the smell is super pungent. The way I prepare terasi is to cut off required amount from the big block, then dry fry in a frying pan until toasted. Once toasted, it should look dry and very crumbly. If you cannot find terasi in your local Asian groceries, you can buy from Amazon. The closest and best substitute is fish sauce, though it is a rather poor substitute, but still better than none.
- 3 tablespoon oil
- 2 lemongrass, bruised and knotted
- 900 gram (~ 2 lbs) boneless skinless chicken breast and/or thigh, cut into thin strips
- 3 cup chicken stock
- 1 can (400 ml) coconut milk, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 6 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup coriander leaves, thinly sliced
- 100 gram shallot
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 inch ginger
- ½ tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (Indonesian: terasi, Malaysian/Singaporean: belacan), toasted
- 3 red fresno chili peppers
- 2-5 Thai bird eye chilies (optional)
- Heat oil in a soup pot over medium high heat. Sauté spice paste and lemongrass until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Add in chicken strips, stir until no longer pink.
- Pour chicken stock and ½ can of coconut milk to the pot, season with salt, sugar, and ground pepper.
- Once it boils, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until chicken is fully cooked.
- Reduce heat to as low as possible, then add in the remaining coconut milk. Give it a taste test and add salt/sugar as needed.
- Turn off heat. Add in thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves, scallions, and coriander leaves. Serve hot with steamed white rice.