Monday, March 31, 2008


While supermarket shopping in Thailand the other day I came across fried tofu puffs which I have never seen in Laos and immediately thought Laksa. Now, I have made many Laksa's over the years and while they are usually very tasty they are often really, really time consuming. I mean really, on most days, who could be bothered to boil prawn heads to get a stock - even if it is a damm tasty stock. So I took a risk and attempted a recipe from my new 'Bowl Food' cookbook purchased from the Cambodian chain bookstore that sells a wide range of photocopied, copyright infringed books. It looked easy and surprisingly was quite tasty. Anyway, that is why a make this post -it is a recipe for a tasty Laksa that you don't have to dedicate a day to.

For paste

1 ½ tablespoons coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 onion, chopped
1cm x 3cm piece of ginger, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
3 stems lemongrass, sliced
4-6 small red chilies
2-3 teaspoons shrimp paste

For soup

1 L chicken stock
½ cup oil (I only used a few tablespoons)
3 cups coconut milk (I made do with a 200ml can coconut cream)
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
2 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 table spoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
Handful of prawns or pork or beef or veggies
250g dried vermicelli noodles

To serve

1 cup bean sprouts
Handful of fried tofu puffs
4 hardboiled eggs
Mint, coriander – chopped
Lime wedges – to serve
Fried shallots – to serve

Dry roast the coriander seeds. Grind in a mortar and pestle. Repeat for cumin seeds. Put all of the ingredients for the paste in a blender and add half a cup of stock and blend to a paste.

Heat the oil and cook the paste on a low heat for 3- 5 minutes while stirring. Add remaining stock and bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 min, until slightly reduced. Add the coconut milk, lime leaves, lime juice, fish sauce and palm sugar and simmer for 5 minutes. At this time pour some boiling water over the vermicelli and leave for about 5 minutes until soft. Drain.

Add meat or vegies to soup and simmer until cooked.

Add noodles to each bowl. Top with soup and then garnish with eggs, bean sprouts, tofu puffs and herbs. Serve with lime and shallots. Serves 4-6.

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