Portion/Yield:Serves 2 as a main course
Recently I came across Rick Steins Far Eastern Odyssey, I am not keen on his work on TV as I find it a bit cringe worthy at the best of times. However I really enjoyed watching this series as it was very informative and I found myself glued to the telly. In particular I enjoyed watching how they made rice noodles.
Rick Stein was chatting with these cooks who had learned to cook for survival from their parents and this knowledge had been passed from generation to generation. Food in the far east is a matter of survival rather than consumption for enjoyment. Lets face it if I was to go without food for a couple of days I would easily survive as I’m well fed and perhaps it would do me good not to eat but for those people food means survival. It makes me feel guilty and a bit like a fat pig and at the best of times as I take food for granted.
They used fresh turmeric as much as we use garlic and it went into nearly everything they cooked. Rick pointed out that it made a huge difference to the food, so I made a mental note to buy some when I next saw it. So when I saw fresh turmeric at the Oriental store on my twice yearly visit, the memories of this program came flooding back. After I made this laksa paste I froze the remainder of the fresh turmeric which I shall only use next time. It’s a great find indeed, it looks almost like fresh ginger however the arms are thinner.
I also found these fantastic pea aubergines and choi sum, not something I would find easily at my local supermarket but a great treat if you visit the Oriental store. I also bought freshly made ramen noodles for this delicious prawn coconut laska recipe. As it’s not very easy to make only a small amount of the laska paste, I made the whole recipe and froze the remainder of the paste. I used a rubber ice cube tray, so next time I can easily pop the frozen laksa paste pellets out of the tray and cook from frozen.
If you cannot find pea aubergines use ordinary aubergines instead, they add a meatiness to the dish. Replace the choi sum with bok choy or even pac-choi, as this works just as well. If you happen to have very fresh mackerel or salmon, slice it very thinly, place the raw fish slices on top of the warm noodles and then pour the boiling hot laksa over the raw fish, this will cook the fish in seconds, it’s delicious!
Ingredients & Method
Homemade Laksa Paste
- 100ml peanut oil
- 5g fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated
- 5g fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1tsp shrimp paste
- 80g fresh coriander and roots, washed and roughly chopped
- 2 kaffir lime leaves, remove the stalks
- 1 stick of lemongrass, chopped
- Juice and zest of one lime
- 1red chillie, de-seeded and sliced
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 1 onion, diced
For the soup
- 80g aubergine, cut into 2cm dice and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper
- 80g pea aubergines, washed and stalks removed
- 1tbs sesame oil
- 1tbs sunflower oil
- 6 large peeled tiger prawns (3 per person or 5 smaller ones each)
- 4tbs of the freshly made Laksa Paste
- 1tbs fish sauce
- 300ml chicken stock
- 1 tin of coconut milk
- 2 portions of fresh ramen noodles
- 1 choi sum, shredded
- 2tbs fresh bean shoots
- 2 tbs fresh coriander roughly chopped
- 1 spring onion finely sliced
- ½ fresh lime
First make the laksa paste. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until a smooth paste. I found it difficult to just make what you need so I make a larger quantity and then freeze the paste in ice cube trays, use them from frozen, perfect.
For the soup, heat a wok or large saucepan with the sesame and sunflower oil, wok the seasoned aubergines and pea aubergines until golden brown and remove from the pan, set aside keep them warm.
In the same wok fry the prawns for 2 -3 minutes, set aside, keep warm.
Fry the laksa paste in the same wok for 2 minutes, stir continuously, deglaze with the fish sauce and add the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil, simmer for 5 minutes.
While the soup is coming to the boil bring a large saucepan with salted water to the boil and cook the ramen noodles until tender, drain.
Place the ramen noodles, aubergines, prawns and shredded choi sum in warm soup bowls; pour the hot soup over.
Garnish with the fresh raw bean shoots, roughly chopped fresh coriander and add a generous amount of freshly squeezed lime juice to taste.