Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cooking Laksa

I wonder who created laksa?

Maybe the origins was something like mole, where someone just used whatever ingredients that they had at hand and surprise, something beautiful was created. I don’t know. And how did all the different permutations come about?

Laksa, in this case laksa lemak, is a great dish. It is rich and comforting for the soul and it is a magic carpet ride of hot, spicy, fragrant and creamy sensations. For some reason I’ve never thought about making laksa from scratch. It does seem like quite a tedious task and since I work close to a pretty good laksa stall, it really doesn’t make sense. But since a Singaporean friend who has sense migrated was visiting for lunch I thought it was a perfect opportunity to try my hand at this.

You could make laksa for one, but if you are going to use all that elbow grease to pound all your ingredients rather than throwing it in a food processor (as I did, my excuse was that I woke up late and my guest were arriving so I couldn’t let them starve), you might as well get some people to help to make tonnes of it and they can enjoy the fruits of their labour at the same time. Once you get that pounding out of the way, everything else is rather simple. All you need to do is to fry the paste, add liquids and simmer.



Laksa

100 g cooking oil
150 g dried shrimp, soaked till soft and drain
400 ml coconut milk
1.5 litres chicken stock
Sugar to taste
Salt to taste
20 g tofu puffs, cut into strips or cubes
400 g thick rice noodles, blanched
Laksa leaves, washed and chopped

Laksa Paste
1 stalk lemon grass, white portion only sliced
100 g blue ginger/galangal, peeled and sliced
20 g candlenuts, roughly chopped
200 g shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
15 g chilli paste
20 g belachan
1 Tbsp ground coriander seeds
1 Tbsp ground turmeric

Condiments
16 prawns, shelled and boiled
30 g bean sprouts, blanched
Hard boiled eggs, halved

Method:

1. Prepare laksa paste. Grind all ingredients except turmeric and coriander seeds in a blender until a fine paste then add turmeric and ground coriander seeds.

2. Heat oil in a large heavy based pot. Fry laksa paste for about 5 minutes, add dried shrimp and fry for another 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and stock. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and sugar to taste.

3. Strain stock and reserve dried shrimp. Grind dried shrimp in a food processor and stir into the stock for a thicker consistency. Add tofu puffs and simmer for another 5 minutes.

4. Arrange condiments and noodles in a serving bowl and ladle over hot gravy and sprinkle with laksa leaves as desired.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a little confused by part two of the instructions and would appreciate if you can help me out!

You include the dried shrimp as part of the paste in the ingredients, but then seem to suggest that it is not part of the paste that is pounded/blended together and then fried - your instructions say to add them subsequent to the frying of the paste?

So is the dried shrimp part of the paste or added separately? If so, perhaps they should, along with the tumeric and coriander seeds, be mentioned as needing to be omitted from the initial blending of the paste :)

Hope that makes sense and I hope you are able to clarify as the recipe looks like a winner!

12:28 PM  
Blogger joone! said...

yes you are right. The shrimp is omitted from the initial blending of the paste. I'll edit it!

10:31 AM  
Blogger Hsian said...

Hi Joone!

I have a good Johor Laksa recipe if you want :)

Cheers
Li-Hsian

4:41 PM  
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