Chicken laska is a classic Asian recipe and worth the effort. Poach the chicken. Pour about 250ml boiling water into pan, roughly chop poaching ingredients (except chicken) and add to pan. Add whole chicken breasts, a pinch of salt and poach over very gentle heat for about 20 mins or until just cooked. Remove from pan, cover and keep warm. Strain and reserve the cooking liquor.
Make the paste. Roughly chop onion and whizz in a processor until a fine paste. In a pestle and mortar pount the garlic, lemongrass, ginger, chili, salt and chili until quite smooth. Add spices and other paste ingredients if using.
In a wide, deep pan or wok, heat the oil. Add the onion and fry over medium heat until soft and slightly coloured. Add paste and fry for a few minutes, taking care not to burn it. Add sugar and mix well. Next, add a few ladlefuls of reserved cooking liquor. Simmer until reduced by about half. Add coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce and lime juice.
Simmer for 5-10 mins until required consistency – it should remain quite a thin sauce. Check for seasoning. Cook noodles and place in deep bowls. Add sliced chicken and ladle over the sauce. Top with the garnish.