Prawn Laksa


Adapted from Julia Child’s recipe


1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup each chopped onion and leek

4 cloves smashed garlic

2 or 3 large, ripe tomatoes, chopped or 2 cups canned

2 1/2 L water

Fresh herb sprigs: thyme, parsley, fennel fronds and basil (in any combination)

1/2 teaspoon crumbled saffron

1 tablespoon sea salt

2 kg  fish heads, bones, trimmings, shrimp shells

500 g each: peeled shrimp (use the shells for the stock); wild cod, halibut or other flaky white fish, cut into large chunks; debearded, scrubbed mussels or clams

Crusty bread, sliced


  • 1 roasted and peeled red bell pepper
  • 1 roasted hot red chile pepper or ground cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small peeled garlic clove
  • 1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs or finely chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • Fine sea salt, about 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil


For the soup:

Heat the oil in a tall pot (I use an 8 quart stockpot) over medium heat; add the onion and leek and cook gently until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook for a minute until fragrant, then add the tomatoes, water, herbs, saffron, salt and fish bones and shrimp shells. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat so that the broth bubbles slowly without boiling.

Cook 30 minutes, then strain the broth into a large bowl or another pot and discard the solids.

Pour the broth back into the stockpot and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp and cook until they turn pink, a minute or two. Add the rest of the fish and shellfish, cover and simmer until the mussels or clams open (this will just take a few minutes).

Taste the soup and add more salt and freshly ground pepper if needed.

Make the rouille:

Puree everything except for the olive oil in a food processor until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil while processing to form a paste.

Toast the bread and brush with olive oil.

Serve the soup with bread and rouille.