• 125 ml peanut (groundnut) oil
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 3 tbsp tinned chickpeas, mashed
  • 85g (see note) toasted rice powder
  • 8 red Asian shallots, peeled
  • 80ml fish sauce
  • 100g vermicelli noodles
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, halved
  • 4 coriander sprigs, to garnish
  • 8 snake beans or green or beans, finely sliced
  • for sprinkling chilli flakes
  • to serve lime wedges
  • about 1kg whole catfish or silver perch or gurnard, cleaned and gutted
  • 1 stem lemongrass, bruised
  • 2 cloves garlic, bashed
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 stems lemongrass, finely sliced
  • 4 whole dried chillies, then drained
  • 4 red Asian shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely sliced


  • STEP 1

    To make the broth, put the whole fish in a large pan with the lemongrass, garlic and turmeric. Add enough cold water to cover the fish and bring to the boil. Skim off any impurities, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain the broth and reserve it. Remove the fish meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones.

  • STEP 2

    Meanwhile, make the spice paste. Pound the lemongrass, whole dried chillies, shallot, garlic and ginger into a smooth paste using a large mortar and pestle, or in a food processor.

  • STEP 3

    Heat the peanut oil in a pan over low heat.Add the spice mixture and fry for 20 minutes, or until slightly caramelised. Stir in the shrimp paste, turmeric and paprika. Now add the flaked fish, mixing gently until the fish is well coated. Cook over low heat for a further 5 minutes, to allow the flavours to infuse.

  • STEP 4

    Return the broth to the large saucepan.Add the fish mixture, mashed chickpeas, rice powder, shallots, fish sauce and a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir to combine, then simmer for 30 minutes.

  • STEP 5

    Meanwhile, cook the noodles in a pan of boiling water for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat and stand the noodles in the water for 5 minutes. Drain well, rinse under cold water, then drain well again.

  • STEP 6

    Divide the noodles among four bowls and add a boiled egg half to each bowl. Ladle the broth over the noodles. Garnish with the coriander, snake beans and chilli flakes and serve with lime wedges.


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