Friday, October 9, 2009

Laksa, yes please!

Darwin in a bowl. Here it is. Laksa as it should be, slurpy, messy, spicy and milky. It is done really well up in northern Australia. The proximity to S.E. Asia is a real influence, as is the hot climate and abundance of tropical ingredients. Lemon grass grows so well here, galangal too. Chillies are fiery and plentiful. Searingly hot red curry paste is made by Thai women in their kitchens and sold at the Rapid Creek Markets.
In this warm (really I mean oppressive) weather, do you really want to be eating a hot soup? There is something about the chili, the flavour and the subsequent sweating that make me say YES PLEASE! PASS THE LAKSA! It is equally as delicious and lip-smacking in the cold though. Just throw on a scarf, put on those mittens and slurp down some delicious laksa whatever the temperature.

This recipe is easy, although perhaps a little labour intensive. What makes it easy is the use of a food processor. Simply add all of the paste ingredients to the bowl of your processor, use your sharpest blade and you have made a potentially authentic laksa paste in less than five minutes. This paste is the key to the overall dish. It is also a real confidence booster in tackling cooking where flavours are built up, such as Indian or Thai... more about that later.

Serves 4

2 tbs red curry paste
4 chicken thigh fillets, cubed
3 cups chicken stock
2 packets instant noodles
Handful rice noodles
4 eggs
400 ml tin light coconut milk
Lovely handful snowpeas
8 prawns, peeled (optional)
4 spring onions, white part sliced
1 cup (or so) bean sprouts
Bunch coriander, roughly chopped

Laksa Paste:
1 large onion, roughly chopped
5 c.m. piece ginger, roughly chopped - if you can find some galangal use it too!
2 stems lemon grass, white part roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 chillies, chopped
2 tbs oil

Make the laksa paste. Combine the first five ingredients in your food processor, blend until well chopped and relatively smooth. Add oil, until the mixture becomes a paste. It will smell amazing!

Heat a wok over medium heat, add the laksa paste and cook mixture while stirring for two minutes. Add the chicken, stir to coat and cook for a further two minutes. Mix in the chicken stock, slowly bring to the boil and simmer gently for ten minutes, until the chicken is cooked.

Meanwhile, bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Cook the two types of noodles according to packet instructions. Divide amongst four bowls that you will serve the laksa in. Place eggs into another saucepan, top with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for three minutes before removing saucepan from heat. Cool the eggs, peel and halve. Divide amongst the noodle-filled bowls.

Back in the wok, add the coconut milk, snowpeas and prawns if using. Heat through. Ladle into the four bowls. Top each bowl with a good amount of spring onions, bean sprouts and coriander. Slurp it down with plenty of napkins handy.

Should serve 4, but less if you and your lovely are really hungry. Adapted from an old recipe from an ancient Men’s Health magazine.
Please enjoy this with a beer. It is the only way...

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