Curry Laksa

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.

Curry Laksa

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
peanut oil
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.

6 Comments »

  1. Josiane Said,

    June 1, 2010 @ 12:37 am

    It indeed seems to be the perfect thing for a cold! I hope Mark gets better soon, and you skip your turn getting sick.
    I hope I can find at least the most important ingredients for this soup in my small local “exotic”* grocery store, because it sounds amazing and I’d love to give it a try!
    *It’s not an asian, indian, south american, or middle eastern store, no – it’s a mix of all that and more! Which means that they have a little bit of everything, emphasis being on “a little bit” more than on “everything”, here. 😉

  2. Danielle Said,

    June 1, 2010 @ 9:38 am

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your kitty.

    This recipe looks really intriguing, and I like your use of jackfruit! I’ve had it only once, simmered for a long time in Mexican seasonings. It was meant to emulate a pork-style dish, but the light flavor of the jackfruit suggests that it’s a more convincing seafood substitute. Thanks for the great dinner idea!

  3. Jes Said,

    June 1, 2010 @ 10:00 am

    That laksa looks amazingly authentic to me & a great way to beat a cold (I hate it when I get colds in summer–feel better Mark!). And I really need to figure out where that jackfruit is in my Asian grocery. I haven’t had any luck yet, it always seems to be a sweet syrup and not savory. Hmm.

  4. trininista Said,

    June 1, 2010 @ 10:17 am

    I have never had laksa but this has intrigued me and since I will be on a short vacation this weekend I just may give it a try, though it looks fattening and I am on a bit of a diet. 🙂

    When I lost my dog, and when I had my original blog, the outpouring of love from my readers really buoyed me. Even if it’s one person, it makes the world of difference. I have not been able to replace her yet (the fear of loss and the grief is too great) but I do understand how you feel. It is a terrible thing to lose your baby (I never call them pets). Chin up!

  5. Zoa Said,

    June 1, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

    Danielle, ” the light flavour of the jackfruit”, really? I’ve never tried the canned stuff, but did once buy an actual jackfruit. I’ll try anything…once…and once was definitely enough. Jackfruit has other, less neutral, names, and they are well deserved, in my opinion!

    Renae, I was so sorry to read about the loss of Brachtune. Your beautiful post made me cry.

  6. Caleb Said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

    I have some questions regarding your miso making.
    i’d really appreciate it, if you could email me back at [email protected]

    did your miso ever bubble while it was fermenting?

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