Laksa Lemak (Laksa with Shrimp and Tofu)

1 block Chinese tofu, around 14-16 oz
2-3 Tbsp peanut oil
16 jumbo shrimp, peeled and debeined
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 quarts chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/4 cups thick coconut milk
8-12 oz vermicelli, soaked in hot water (covered) for 5 minutes and drained
4-6 oz bean sprouts
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered

PASTE:

1-2 large red chili pepper, chopped
2 shallots, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp ground almonds
1 tsp fresh ginger root, chopped
1 tsp galangal, chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp peanut oil

1. Make the paste by blending the ingredients together until smooth. Put in small pot and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Cut tofu into cubes and fry in peanut oil until cubes are a light brown. Do not overcook! Handle with care, as tofu will be fragile. Drain on paper towel-lined plate.

3. Rub the shrimp with sea salt and set aside. Bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in the paste and boil for 2 minutes. Add shrimp and cook for 2 additional minutes. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon and place in separate bowl.

4. Pour the coconut milk into the stock and boil, simmering for about 5 minutes. While this is simmering, divide the vermicelli, shrimp and tofu between 4 bowls. Then place sprouts and eggs on top of shrimp in each bowl.

5. Season to taste the stock and bring it to a rolling boil. Ladle the boiling soup into the shrimp bowls.

TIPS: Garnish with green onions, parley and fried shallots. Enjoy!

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