Recipe: Vicki Ravlich-Horan | Photography: Ashlee DeCaires

As the nights get a little cooler, a spicy aromatic laksa packed with vegetables and noodles is the perfect mid-week meal. Make your own spice paste and have it in the freezer to use when the mood takes you or cheat by having a store-bought jar on hand.

Laksa Paste
3–6 fresh chillies (depending on how spicy you like it)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 stalks of lemongrass (white part only)
3cm piece galangal*, peeled and roughly chopped
¼ cup raw cashew nuts
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp shrimp paste
2 tbsp peanut oil

Place all the ingredients, except the oil, in a mortar and pestle and pound away. Once a paste begins to form, slowly incorporate the oil. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can put everything in a food processor to do this, but I find the mortar and pestle results in a better texture (while also a great way for me to vent any frustrations).

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze in easy to use portions for several months.

*If you can’t find fresh galangal fresh ginger can be used. I found both frozen galangal and lemongrass at my local Asian supermarket, a great place to get the shrimp paste too.

Laksa
1 tbsp oil
2 tbsp laksa paste
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock (I used Restore’s Cheeky Chicken bone broth)
350–400g pumpkin, peeled + cut into cubes (about 3 cups cubed)
1 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 400ml tin coconut milk
250g fresh noodles

veg – I love using broccolini, diced zucchini, bok choy, green beans…
1 lime

In a large pot or wok heat the oil. Add the paste and fry, stirring constantly, for 2–3 minutes to release all the flavour and aromas.
Add the pumpkin then pour in the stock. Simmer gently for approx. 15 minutes or until the pumpkin is just soft.
Carefully place half the soup in a blender and puree then return it to the pot with the remaining soup. Add in the peanut butter, soy and fish sauce along with the coconut milk and bring back to a simmer.
Stir in the veges and continue to simmer on low until these are cooked to your liking. Finally add in the noodles. When the noodles are heated through, give it a squeeze of lime then check and adjust the seasoning.

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