Chicken Laksa Curry

I just love this fragrant noodle soup recipe!
It reminds me of my days living in The Northern Territory where there was an abundance of beautiful Malay and Asian cooking. The curry paste is so flavoursome and it can be freshly prepared or you can get great quality pastes in Asian supermarkets. I usually buy mine in Waitrose when I’m rushed for time. Making a double batch and freezing it is always great, particularly if you make the paste from scratch!
Laksa Paste
3 dried red chillies, stemmed, halved, seeded
1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
4 red Thai chiles, chopped
3 medium shallots, chopped
3 lemongrass stalks, tough outer layers removed, finely grated
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 teaspoons Thai shrimp paste
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup coconut oil
2 14-ounce cans coconut milk, divided
3 cups homemade chicken stock
12 tofu puffs (optional)
1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
8 ounces wide rice vermicelli or egg noodles of preferred
2 teaspoons agarve
Sea Salt to taste
4 large soft-boiled eggs (optional)
Bean sprouts, (I used a bag of Waitrose mixed stir fry veg you can use any veg you fancy!)
mint leaves, lime wedges, and sambal oelek (for serving)
Laksa Paste
Place dried chillies in a small heatproof bowl, add boiling water to cover, and let soak until softened, 12–15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a large dry saucepan over medium-high. Cook ginger and garlic, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden and garlic is just tender, 6–8 minutes. Transfer to a clean surface; peel garlic.
Place in a blender red chillies and Thai chillies, shallots, lemongrass, oil, shrimp paste, coriander, curry powder and cumin. Blend until smooth.
Heat coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium-high. Cook laksa paste, stirring often, until paste is slightly darkened and begins to slide around saucepan when stirred, about 2 minutes. Add half of coconut milk and cook, stirring, until reduced by half, 4–6 minutes. Add stock, tofu puffs, if using, and remaining coconut milk. Bring to a boil;  Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and tender, be careful to not over boil and make the chicken dry! Usually for around 20–25 minutes. Add the veg in the last 3-4 mins so they remain crunchy and still full of goodness.
Transfer chicken to a plate and let it cool; shred meat.
Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions.
Add chicken and agrave to soup; season with salt. Divide soup and noodles among bowls. Top with eggs, a lime wedge, fresh mint and sprouts.  You can add other toppings such as peppers if you fancy.

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