I was first introduced to Laksa a few years back when a friend of ours did a regular pop up laksa night. It was always amazing. Now I long for those nights, getting together with friends and catching up over a warm bowl of deliciousness. It is something to look forward to though isn’t it? And won’t it feel extra special? I can’t wait. Laksa has just about everything going for it, all of my favourite components… Those fragrant and spicy Malaysian flavours that warm your soul, comforting coconut broth and an array of colourful veggies. Noodle dishes are also one of my favourites.
I’ve been trying out a few different laksa recipes for a while now and I’ve finally come up with a version everyone loves. What I love about laksa is that you can be creative with your toppings and tailor it to what you have in the fridge, there’s lots of room for improvisation and it looks very pretty when you serve it up! Now I’m not saying I’m a laksa expert, but this is my version of the dish I’ve come to love. So when the time comes and we can get together with friends, this would be a perfect dish to serve up to your loved ones that I’m certain will impress.
This is much more filling that you may think at first so it is wonderful on it’s own. However if you want to go all out and are feeding a hungry family, our asian style cauliflower bites go perfectly along side this and you could even add some spring rolls too. I recommend Tesco’s plant chef ‘no duck spring rolls’ – you can find them in the freezer section.
A fragant, coconut noodle soup with lots of veggies and a little spicy kick.
For the paste
- 2 tsp corriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper or a dash of smoked paprika
- 1 inch fresh ginger root peeled and quartered
- 3 cloves garlic peeled
- 2 small shallots peeled and quartered
- 1 stalk lemongrass discard the ends
- 1 fresh red chilli or more to taste
- ½ lime juiced
- 4-5 kaffir lime leaves fresh or dried
- 25 g fresh corriander leaves
- 1-2 Tbsp water plus extra if needed
For the soup
- 1 Tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
- 200 g shitake mushrooms or chestnut
- 1 small head of broccoli or tenderstem broccoli (about 200g)
- 1 carrot
- 1 red pepper or courgette
- 4 nests wholewheat noodles or rice noodles
- 1 tin coconut milk
- 800 ml vegetable stock
- soy sauce
- 1 handful spinach optional
- 2 pak choi or chicory/chinese leaf
- 1 block tofu
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tsp tamari or soy sauce
- red chilli optional
- fresh coriander optional
- sesame seeds
- ½ lime
Prep the toppings
Slice the tofu into bite size chunks and place into a glass bowl. Add 1 Tbsp sesame oil, 1 Tbsp sweet chilli sauce and 2 Tbsp Soy sauce. Mix together and leave to marinade.
Slice the pak choi in half lengthways (or quarters if they are large), trying to keep the leaves attached to the base. Set aside to fry later.
To make the paste
First, toast the coriander, fennel and cumin seeds in a frying pan for a few minutes until they smell wonderful. Grind them in a pestle and morter or spice grinder, before adding them along with the rest of the paste ingredients, into a blender and whiz until smooth. Add more water if necessary.
To make the soup
Next, prep the veg - ribbon the carrot, chop the pepper and brocolli into bite size pieces and slice the mushrooms. Heat the oil in a deep saucepan, then add in all of the paste and cook through for 3-5 minutes. Add in the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes, then add in the rest of vegetables and give it a good stir. Add in the coconut milk and veg stock then bring it to the boil. Once it's bubbling turn it down to a medium-low heat, add in the noodle nests and let them cook in the broth for about 12 minutes. Use a fork to help break up the noodles ensuring they cook evenly.
Whilst the noodles are cooking, set two more pans on a medium heat with a drizzle of sessame oil in each, once hot add the pak choi into one and the tofu into the other, tipping any leftover marinade into the soup. Fry gently on a medium heat, turning the tofu over to crisp up on all sides. After about 5 minutes, flip the pak choi over and drizzle a tsp of tamari or soy sauce over each bunch of pak choi, cook for 5 more minutes on a high heat - you want it to get a little charred. Add a handul of spinach into the soup and stir well.
Check the noodles are done, then check the seasoning, add a dash more soy sauce to your taste. Then divide the soup evenly into the bowls. I usually use tongs or a spaghetti server to divide the noodles and veg then a ladle for soup.
Finish each bowl with a bunch of pak choi, pieces of crispy tofu, fresh corriander (if you're a fan), a sprinkling of red chilli, sesame seeds and a wedge of lime.