Let me first say how much I and Mark both appreciate all of the comments we received on my last post about losing Brachtune. It’s been hard for us – the house seems so empty without any animals – but your kind thoughts have been a big comfort. I never really thought anyone would read this blog when I first started it, but having the support of people from around the world when I’m feeling this down is really incredible. Thank you.
Mark’s been battling quite a chest cold for several days now, and I’m hoping this tickle in my throat isn’t going to turn into anything worse. But I happen to think that spicy soups are just the thing at the beginning or end of a cold (or the middle, or, well, any other day, quite frankly), and I had most of a can of coconut milk left from another recipe that I wanted to use up, which got me thinking about laksa. I don’t see laksa much on menus in this area for some reason, although maybe it’s just never found under the vegetarian section so I miss it. So the first time I ever had laksa was actually in Sydney (where it was found under the vegetarian section of a menu). I’d therefore be hard pressed to call myself a laksa expert so the recipe I present here may have little in common with a genuine laksa, but it was spicy and good so I’m presenting it anyway. I used this recipe as a reference for the spices.
8 oz rice noodles (either wide or vermicelli)
4 shallots, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2″ piece ginger, roughly chopped
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ground dried lemongrass (I bought this at Penzeys for those times I don’t have lemongrass on hand, obviously you can substitute fresh lemongrass)
2 Tbsp sambel olek
3 cubes frozen cilantro (or a handful fresh, chopped)
1 cube frozen basil (or a few leaves fresh)
2 tsp curry powder
4 cups vegan broth
1 1/4 cup coconut milk (this is what I had leftover; I’d just dump an entire can in if I were making this again)
1 carrot, cut into squat matchsticks
1 can young green jackfruit (in brine), shredded
1/4 cup chopped bamboo shoots
1/4 cup water chestnuts
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1 cup frozen spinach
1 cup frozen asparagus stalks, chopped
tofu puffs or frozen fried tofu, chopped
limes, to garnish
I didn’t have a lot of fresh veggies and didn’t want to make a trip to the grocery store, which is why my veggies are pretty weird. I’d really have liked to have had bean sprouts, so much so that I almost did make that trip to the store. If I had, I’d have gotten some fresh cilantro and maybe basil (Thai or holy basil if they had it), and some green vegetables of some sort.
Place the shallots, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander, and sambel olek into a small food processor or chopper.
Process until smooth.
Pour some peanut oil into a soup pot over medium heat, then dump the paste from above in and fry until it darkens somewhat (but do not let it burn).
Meanwhile, prepare the rice noodles. I soak them in boiling water until they are done.
Drain the jackfruit. I’m using it as a sort of seafood alternative here, by the way.
Shred it with your fingers.
Add the broth, coconut milk, curry powder, the jackfruit, and any non-frozen veggies that are relatively hard (like the carrots).
Cook until the veggies are almost soft, then add the herbs, frozen veggies, and any other items (except the tofu puffs and bean sprouts, which I’d just top on the soup raw later).
To serve, place some noodles in a large bowl, then ladle the soup over them. Top with the tofu puffs and bean sprouts if you have them. Squeeze the lime over the soup before eating.
I am supposed to tell you that Mark recommends seasoning this with sriracha. Mark, of course, recommends seasoning everything with sriracha.