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Recipe: Swansey’s Penang Laska by Darina Allen

This winter warmer will fight off the chill..

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Try Darina Allen’s delicious recipe for Swansey’s Penang Laksa for a healthy winter warmer…

Laksa Recipe

Swansey’s Penang Laska

“This version was given to me by Lay Choo Lim from Penang, who did the Certificate Course here at the school in 2007. In the recipe, given to her by her late mother, Swansey, Lay Choo uses local fresh white rice noodles in Malaysia, but over here she uses fine udon noodles which she cooks like spaghetti, until slightly al dente. Penangites like their laksa hot – so use fewer chillies if you prefer.” Darina Allen


Serves 6-8

For the Laska

  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 500g fish fillet, such as
  • Monkfish, cut into 2cm dice
  • 250g raw prawns, cut into 1cm dice
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 200ml tamarind juice (150ml hot water and 60g dry tamarind squeezed and strained)
  • 600ml fish stock (optional)
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar or soft
  • Brown sugar
  • 150g round rice noodles
  • Salt

For the Chilli Paste

  • 8 fresh Thai chillies, deseeded
  •  3 stalks lemongrass (white parts only)
  • 1 level tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 10 shallots
  • 1 x 50g block belachan (shrimp paste)
  • 2.5cm piece of galangal

To Serve

  • 1 cucumber, deseeded and cut into very fine strips
  • ½ fresh pineapple, cut into very fine strips
  • ½ small lettuce, cut into very fine strips
  • 1 large red onion, very finely sliced
  • 3 large pickled gherkins, cut into fine strips
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Lime wedges


Roughly chop all the ingredients for the chilli paste. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until a fine paste is formed. Heat a clay pot (a saucepan works as an alternative) over a medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the chilli paste. Continue to stir, otherwise the chilli paste will burn. Cook for 4–5 minutes until the aroma is released, then add the fish and the prawns. Stir to coat thoroughly with the cooked chilli paste and add salt to taste. After a minute, add the coconut milk and tamarind juice. Depending on how thick you like the laksa sauce, the mixture can be thinned down by adding either fish stock or more tamarind juice, if you want it to be more sour.

When the fish and prawns are almost cooked, add the sugar. Taste and, if necessary, add more salt. Simmer for a few minutes after the fish and prawns are cooked until the chilli oil comes to the surface. Remove from the heat. Boil a big pot of water, add the rice noodles and cook according to the packet instructions and drain. Divide the noodles into the serving bowls. Add all the vegetables and fruit, including a few mint leaves on top of the noodles.

Heat the laksa sauce until it simmers and ladle into the bowls to cover the noodles, vegetables and fruit. A traditional way of warming the noodles and vegetables is to pour the laksa sauce (but not the noodles or the vegetables) back into the pot. Once the sauce comes back to the boil again, ladle it out again. Garnish with mint leaves and lime wedges to serve.


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