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Soft-Shell Crab Laksa

By Pete Evans From Moveable Feast Season 1, Ep.13
Scott Phillips

Servings: 6

Laksa is a traditional spicy noodle dish of Southeast Asia (especially Malaysia). It’s chile-rich and bright with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, but has plenty of coconut milk to temper the heat. In this version with crab, it becomes a one-bowl meal.


For the crisp-fried shallots

  • 1 large shallot, cut crosswise into thin rings
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

For the laksa

  • 6 oz. bean thread vermicelli noodles
  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • 3 oz. (about 2) long red chiles, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro stems
  • 2 lemongrass stems, white part only, thinly sliced
  • 5 (single) fresh kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 3 14-oz. cans unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 Tbs. grated palm sugar (jaggery)
  • 1/2 tsp. tamarind concentrate, optional
  • 6 cleaned soft shell crabs (about 3-1/2 oz. each after cleaning)
  • 3 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 napa cabbage, finely shredded (2 cups)
  • 4 oz. firm tofu, diced into 3/4-inch cubes

For serving

  • 1 handful of bean sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 3 limes, halved


Fry the shallots

  • Put the shallots in a wide bowl, add the flour, and toss to coat, separating the rings as you go. Put them in a sieve over the bowl and shake off the excess flour.
  • Heat the oil in an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the shallots in batches and fry until crisp. Transfer to paper towels to drain as fried. Set aside.

Make the laksa

  • Soak the noodles in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes to soften.
  • Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, process the garlic, chiles, cilantro stems, lemongrass, and lime leaves, and turmeric with 2 Tbs. water to make a paste, or pound using a mortar and pestle.
  • Bring the coconut milk to a boil in a 6-quart pot over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the spice paste, palm sugar, and tamarind, if using, and stir well until the sugar is dissolved. Add the crab, bring back to a boil, then turn off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes, or until the crab is just cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of the crab should read 145°F).
  • Add the fish sauce, lime juice, cabbage, and tofu. Turn the heat back on to medium-high and cook for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.

To serve

  • Divide the noodles and crab among four bowls, spoon over the sauce and garnish with the bean sprouts, herb leaves, and crisp-fried shallots. Serve with the lime halves.


Recipe adapted from Moveable Feast with Fine Cooking.

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  • bakusek | 06/26/2015

    its very good recipe

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