When I lived in Carbondale, Colorado my restaurant of choice was Phat Thai and the dish I invariably chose was their Laksa (no shrimp and extra veggies, please!) For sure I am missing Colorado and so to bring the good memories a little closer I created a version of Laksa in my Cornish kitchen. Luckily, for my taste buds, it turned out to be quite delicious. Not quite the fabulous mountain variety but a good wet and windy Cornwall day version!
Laksa is an aromatic, coconutty noodle soup from Malaysia. Lemon grass, ginger and spices are the main ingredients for the paste which is used as the base for the soup. Once the Laksa paste is made and the vegetables prepared the whole dish comes together very quickly.
To reduce the amount of fat in the soup, I used one can of light coconut milk along with a regular one. The choice is yours as to the combination of tins coconut milk. If you are trying to reduce fat in your diet then go for 2 cans of light coconut milk though the soup will be less creamy.
Preparation: 40 minutes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of lemon grass, chopped, use only the centre part and save outer leaves
2 – 3 red chillies, chopped
1 small bunch of coriander, stalks chopped for the paste, set leaves aside for later
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 pitted dates
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
Splash of olive oil
500 ml vegetable stock, hot
2 kaffir lime leaves
150 gms tender sweet carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
75 gms mangetout, cut into 2 pieces
120 gms fine french beans, topped, tailed and chopped into 1 inch lengths
2 small bok choy, chopped, separate the stalks from the dark green tops
1 red pepper, sliced into 1 inch strips
2 x 200 ml cans of coconut milk
1 lime, juiced
1 dessertspoon tamari
1 pkt Ready to Wok Medium Noodles
½ cup cashews, toasted
What to do
1. Place all the ingredients for the paste into a food processor and whiz until a rough paste forms. You will need to keep scraping down the sides of the goblet.
2. Heat a splash of oil in a deep pan over a warm to medium heat. Add the onion and laksa paste.
3. Cook for 10 minutes adding a little splash of stock if the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.
4. Add the hot stock, kaffir lime leaves, carrots and beans. Bring to a gentle simmer for 2 or 3 minutes. You can pop the outer leaves of the lemon grass into the pot if you want a little more lemon grass flavour to infuse the soup.
5. Add the remaining vegetables and continue to simmer for a minute or so.
6. Tip the coconut milk into the pan and bring back to a gentle simmer.
7. A moment or two before the vegetables are al dente, add the noodles, lime juice and tamari then bring back to a simmer.
8. Check the seasoning and add salt or a little more tamari if needed.
9. Serve the laksa topped with chopped coriander leaves and toasted cashews.