Sunday, 20 February 2011

Weeknight Laksa

I don’t eat meat. City Boy does, but we don’t cook it at home. Added to this culinary restriction is a whole list of things that City Boy doesn’t like, including fish (although he does like shellfish), butternut squash, and beetroot amongst others. After last night’s dinner, polenta can be added to the list. Coming up with new and interesting ways to cook vegetables can be difficult, so I’m always on the look-out for new non-meat recipes to try. 

I’ve been gradually building up a repertoire of quick and easy dishes that we can put together on a week night when feeling uninspired. Last night we had one from the list – my weeknight version of Laksa. The authentic version is delicious, and I often enjoy it at our favourite Thai restaurant. My version is adapted it to be fuss-free and use up veggies in the fridge and other simple ingredients that we usually have in the cupboard. It’s perfect for a February evening  - a healthy, warming noodle soup that can be made as spicy  as you wish and adapted depending on what you have on hand. You can find Laksa paste, but we enjoy it just as much with red thai curry paste as a substitute, and it’s easier to get your hands on.

Below I’ve set out how I make it – it’s not a recipe as such, as I don’t measure things and it’s pretty adaptable – leave things out or add according to preference – it’s slightly different each time in our house.

Serves: enormous bowls for two people, more reasonable size bowls for four.

Ingredients (essentials):
400ml tin of coconut milk
Red Thai curry paste or Laksa paste
Noodles – dry, fresh, whichever you prefer. About 100g but no need to be too accurate.
250ml vegetable or fish stock

Ingredients (suggestions):
A mixture of any suitable vegetables. I have used those prepared packs of stir-fry vegetables in the past, but depending on what’s available:
Pak choi,
Baby sweetcorn,
Mange Tout
Bean sprouts
Sweet Basil

Whatever combination of vegetables and you use, chop them up into bite sized pieces. You want to end up with at least a generous handful per bowl.

Cooked prawns – Not necessary, you can keep it vegetarian
Cucumber and unsalted peanuts to garnish


Heat some olive oil in the bottom of a large pan. Add vegetables and sauté for about 3 minutes .

Add about 2 and half tablespoons of red thai curry paste and a splash of the coconut milk. If you’re not a huge fan of really spicy food err on the side of caution – you can adjust to taste later. Stir in to the vegetables and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add the rest of the coconut milk and any herbs, stir well and simmer for 5 minutes. Taste, and stir through a bit more of the red thai curry paste if it’s not spicy enough. Add the prawns a few minutes before you’re ready to serve to heat through.

Whilst it’s simmering cook the noodles as directed on the packet, drain and divide into bowls.

Ladle the soup over the noodles. I like to add some shredded cucumber on top and sprinkle with toasted peanuts.

Enjoy with chopsticks and a spoon to scoop up all the broth!

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