Chef's CornerDesiree Brassert

Fish Cakes and Prawn Laksa

Chef's Corner logoThis epic Malaysian curried noodle soup will sweep you far, far away…to the balmy streets of Singapore. The flavorful soup base can be made with chicken, seafood, or vegetarian. This one is made with seafood, my favorite.

Serves 6-8

For the fish cakes

  • ½ kg white fish filet (snapper, mahi, sea bass)
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons of Nam Pla or fish sauce (you can use soy sauce too)
  • 2 teaspoons of Thai red curry paste
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • Oil for frying

Shaped fish cakesDirections

  1. Place fish pieces in food processor and pulse with the next 4 ingredients until smooth.
  2. Add the sliced scallions and mix well. White strings can be removed.
  3. Form into small flat patties and fry until golden, like in the photo.

For the stock

  • 1 fish carcass and/or 1 chicken carcass
  • The shells from 1 kg of large shrimp, save the peeled shrimp for the laksa
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, white part only
  • 3 cm knobs of galangal and/or ginger
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves (optional or can be substituted with 2 bay leaves)
  • 3 tablespoons of Nam Pla or fish sauce to taste
  • Salt, pepper
  • 400 ml can of coconut milk


Cover all ingredients except the coconut milk with 2 liters of water and boil at a slow simmer for 2 hours. Add water if necessary. I am a big advocate of cooling down the made-from-scratch stock, refrigerating it overnight, and skimming the surface on the following day. But you’ll still have great results if you strain it as finely as possible and get it ready for the final assembly. Adjust seasonings and add coconut milk

Completed dishFor the spice paste

  • 2 red chilies (or more if you like)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon of ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, white part only
  • 3 cm piece of galangal or ginger
  • 8 cashew nuts
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon of dried shrimp (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of oil


  1. In the oil, fry the whole cloves of garlic, chopped onion, dried shrimp, galangal or ginger, and lemongrass.
  2. Place in blender with a little bit of strained stock and puree until smooth.

For the assembly and garnish

  • 300 gm of rice vermicelli
  • The 1 kg of peeled shrimp
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • Crispy fried onions
  • Hot chilies
  • Sliced scallions


  1. Soak the vermicelli in boiling water for 5 minutes and strain. Divide the cooked vermicelli into big soup bowls.
  2. Season the shrimp with salt and cook in a bit of oil or water.
  3. Combine the spice paste and broth, bring to a boil and set aside.
  4. Top the noodles with sliced fish cake, cooked shrimp, and eggs.
  5. Ladle the hot soup into bowls and top with cilantro, onions, chilies, and scallions.