Coconut Laksa with Shrimp


Yield: 8


1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp—shelled and deveined, shells reserved
1 onion, quartered 
1 carrot, sliced
3 large shallots, quartered
4 jalapeños, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
2 plump lemongrass stalks—bottom 8 inches only, outer layer removed, stalk cut into 2-inch lengths
One 14 1/2-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 pound Thai flat rice noodles (pad thai), soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
Lime wedges, for serving 


Step 1 In a large saucepan, combine the shrimp shells with the onion, carrot and 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until the stock is bright orange and reduced to 5 cups, about 30 minutes. Strain and reserve the stock.


Step 2 In a food processor, combine the shallots, jalapeños, ginger, macadamia nuts, coriander and turmeric with 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce and 2 tablespoons of the canola oil; puree until smooth.


Step 3 In a soup pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the seasoning paste and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the lemongrass and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture darkens slightly and the oil separates, about 10 minutes.


Step 4 Add the reserved shrimp stock, coconut milk, brown sugar and the remaining 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Simmer over moderate heat until the soup is reduced to 6 cups, about 15 minutes.


Step 5 Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water, cook the rice noodles just until pliable, about 1 minute. Drain, shaking out the excess water. Transfer to 8 soup bowls.


Step 6 Add the shrimp to the soup and cook until pink and curled, about 5 minutes. Season the soup with salt and ladle it over the noodles. Garnish with lime wedges and serve.