Laksa with love
Let’s start with saying that I absolutely no knowledge of a real Malaysian (or Singaporean) Laksa should taste. I’ve only read about it on blogs from that region but that’s all. I know that there are tons of different sort of Laksa but the curry one caught my eye. I mean, coconut milk and curry in one bowl with noodles and vegetables that sounds like a perfect marriage. When I planned an eat-date with my favorite foodies, I’ve decided to give this curry soup a go.
After much research and studying tons of recipes for ingredients, I soon came to the conclusion that there are tons of different curry laksa recipes. Some with ready-made Thai curry paste, with kaffir lime leaves or without, some would add shrimp paste and some were using dried shrimp. There was only one ingredient that made it onto every list (along with gloves and shallots of course): turmeric. This is one of the brightest family members of the large ginger family. It has a warm, peppery taste with a hint of ginger. You can find it in powder form or buy it fresh from your Asian supermarket.
Fresh turmeric comes from the Curcuma longa plant. It looks like a chopped off a finger from a zombie but when you cut or grate it, you will see this bright orange color that will turn yellow when cooked (I’ve walked around with yellow fingertips for a few days so be aware). This pigment is called Curcumin and it is not only responsible for the color but it also a powerful antioxidant. Studies have shown that it reduces inflammation, improve digestion, lower cholesterol, protects the liver from toxins and congestions and it even helps an upset stomach. It might not come to a surprise that this rhizome is already used for thousand of years in China and India for It’s medical properties.
Back to the laksa story. Well, I have to admit that it turned out pretty good! Bold in color and flavors, it’s creamy and most of all, it’s a giant bowl of comfort food! You can go all out on vegetables like eggplant, mixed mushrooms, baby corn, and sprouts. If you aren’t strict vegan or vegetarian you can also add some fish cake. Have fun with playing with your food!
Laksa with love
Serves 5, 6 or 8
For the Laksa paste:
This recipe is for serving a big party (I like big parties!), but if you are serving less, you can
pop the rest of the paste in an ice cube container and pop them in the freezer for later.
Fresh laos, approx 2 cm, grated
2 cm fresh turmeric, grated or 3 tsp curcuma powder)
3 gloves garlic, grind till paste
3 medium shallots, minced
2 tbs dried coriander leaves
2 tbs chili flakes
1 small bird eye chili, minced
2 stalks lemongrass, minced
4 kaffir lime leaves, minced
2 1/2 tbs palm sugar
3 tbs salt
5 tbs coconut oil
Put everything in a food processor en blend till you have a nice paste. If you don’t have a processor, you can practice your knife skills. Chop everything up, put it in a bowl and give it a good stir till all the ingredients are mixed up.
For the broth:
300 ML coconut milk
500 ML water
3 tbs fish sauce (omit if you are strict vegan or vegetarian)
juice of one lime
3 cups of enoki mushrooms
2 cups tempeh or tofu, diced
2 handfuls of bok choy or spinach
6 Udon noodles portion
Cook some water in a bit pot and when the water boils turn off the heat and add the Udon noodles, I’ve used the pre-cooked ones. Just check on the packages for preservatives and other funky ingredients. Let them soak till they are coming loose. Drain and set aside.
In a big wok or big heavy bottom, pan heats up 4 tablespoons of coconut oil (or sunflower). If the oil is sizzling hot pour in your curry mixture. This will release the complex flavors. Keep on stirring till the color of the paste has darkened. Gently add the coconut milk, water, tempeh, mushrooms, eggplant. Let it simmer on low heat for 15 till 20 minutes. Add the lime juice and fish sauce. You want to have this creamy, rich flavor from the coconut but with a little bit freshness from the lime juice. Keep on tasting and adding till you have the right balance in flavor. Add in the bok choy and simmer for 5 more minutes and turn off the heat.
Divide the udon into a few bowls and pour the hot soup over it. Top it off with some bean sprouts, left-over baby bok choy and few fresh coriander leaves. Eat or slurp it while it’s hot and steamy. As condiments, you can put some extra chili flakes, fish sauce, palm sugar, fresh coriander, bean sprouts on the table for guest to adjust their laksa.