Brown Crab and Fishcake Laksa by Anaïs van Manen

The second recipe in this month’s guest chef series is Brown Crab and Fishcake Laksa by @anais.vanmanen After doing time in the kitchens of Bones, Cafe Bar Universal, Auberge de Chassignole, Trullo, amongst others, Anaïs became head of research and development for BAO until the end of 2020

"This recipe is inspired by the early mornings in Singapore where you could have a bowl of hot laksa to start the day. Brown crab meat adds another layer of richness and depth to the broth. It’s a great dish to eat during cold winter nights and mornings." Anaïs van Manen, @anais.vanmanen


  • 12 king prawns
  • 1 small jar of white crab meat
  • 3 handful of cockles
  • Thick round rice noodles (no flat noodles please)
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • Laksa leaves Aka hot mint


For the codfish cake

  • 500g cod filet
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tbsp of cornflour
  • 3 tbsp of tapioca flour
  • salt & white Pepper 


For the Laksa paste

  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste
  • 250g brown crab meat
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 4 candlenuts or macadamia if you can't find it
  • 4 lemongrass stalks thinly sliced (only the white part, keep the green part for your stock)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 thumb of galangal
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 8 small red shallots peeled
  • 3 Red Chili deseeded
  • 6 dried whole chilis
  • 1 tbsp dried shrimp, that has been soaked in water
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Roughly 1/4 cup annatto oil (Optional)


First, you want to prepare your stock. Peel and devein your king prawns. Fill your pot with your prawn shells and add 2.5 L of water and the green part of your lemongrass. Bring it to a simmer and let it cook for about 15minutes. Use a netted ladle and poach your prawns in the stock, you want it to be barely cooked.

In a separate pan, bring 1/2 cup of water to boil, add your cockles and cover with a lid until the cockles open themselves. (Make sure your cockles are clean and sand-free). Take them out of their shells right away to stop the cooking and keep them aside with a little bit of oil, and their cooking stock to keep them from drying. Add the rest of their cooking juice to your prawn stock. Pass your stock through a sieve and set aside.

Cod Fish Cake

This is optional, you can always just thinly slice the cod and poach it as it is for your laksa. Clean your cod filet, so there aren't any stringy bits; chop it roughly. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blitz it until it resembles a paste. Transfer it into an oiled mould and steam the fishcake for 15 minutes. Let it cool and portion it into any shapes you like.

Laksa Broth

In a Food Processor, blitz all your laksa paste ingredients except your oil into a thick paste. Fry this off with your annatto oil, for about 15-20 minutes, don't skip this part as it can result in a raw and gritty broth. Add your prawn stock and simmer the broth for about another 15minutes. Season your broth with salt and sugar until you are satisfied.

You can then add your coconut milk and fish cakes, turn down the heat and get the rest of the ingredients ready for assembling. Cook your rice noodles as instructed on their package. Thinly slice your hot mint.

In a bowl, place your noodles first, and cut them with a pair of scissors. In Singapore, Katong Laksa, which inspired this recipe, is not eaten with chopsticks but solely with a spoon, hence the noodle cutting. Place some prawn, crab meat, and cockles on top, and ladle the hot laksa broth into the bowls. Garnish with hot mint and serve it immediately.