Spicy coconut and noodle soup
I have a small confession.
I have spent 32 years on this Earth calling Laksa, the Malaysian noodle soup, by the wrong name.
Well, probably not 32 years EXACTLY.
I spent about 4 of my formative years surviving on as much mashed potato and gravy as I could humanly get away before my mother forced me to eat some vegetables.
At that time, I probably wasn't concerned about coconut-based noodle soups.
But until verrrrrry recently, I thought it was laska.
Or, erm, something else.
But apparently not, its laksa.
*turns in cron of Asian food knowledge*
When, thanks to a random packet in the supermarket, I found it was laksa, I started to google like a good 'un, and found out that this is a hotly contested dish.
Basically, it is a spicy, noodle soup that may or may not have have vegetables in it.
There might be fish, herbs or eggs.
There was a fight when a tourism minister tried to claim it as indigenious to Malaysia.
The noodles might be thin or thick.
Basically there is a lot of debate in the laksa world.
And I simply cannot be arsed with debate.
I just want my dinner.
And so here is my recipe for a laksa, erm, inspired? soup.
A quick, tasty recipe for your dinner, ready in 15 minutes.
Maybe I should patent it as laska?
Take a thumb-sized piece of ginger.
Realise that every Asian recipe pretty much EVER says just that and you wonder length-wise? Girth-wise? HELP A SISTER OUT HERE.
It means length.
But this is how much ginger I had and I have quite long thumbs so this is how much ginger I used.
(Sorry for saying girth.)
Peel the ginger.
Peel 3 garlic cloves and chuck those in a food processor with the ginger.
Add a handful of coriander (about half a standard supermarket packet).
And a handful of mint.
Chop the top of a chilli and add it to the processor.
Add 2 lemongrass sticks.
Or, if like me, you live in a world where you have been calling an Asian soup by the wrong name for pretty much your whole life, a squeeze of puree will do just fine.
Yes, the fresh stuff is better.
Yes, you can taste the difference.
But life is short and Asian supermarkets have limited opening hours and I really, really don't want to live in a world where fellow humans are feeling guilty because of some fucking lemongrass.
Add some keffir lime leaves.
Whizz well, until finely chopped.
Just as a warning, the last time I made this I used a blender, which worked absolutely fine.
Except I over-blended and it produced a bright green liquid enjoyed by the kind of people who enjoy making others feel guilty about not being able to source fresh lemongrass.
Was still a tasty soup though.
So if a blender is what you have, blend away.
Finely chop some carrots.
You can use a spiraliser (except spiralisers create spirals of things which them you have to chop anyway and you seem to end up throwing away far too much carrot and life is short).
You can use one of these julienne peelers (really cheap, and doesn't gather dust in a drawer).
You can use a knife.
It's your dinner.
Melt some coconut oil in a pan.
if you don't have coconut oil, regular olive or vegetable oil is fine.
Add the chopped herb mix, frying over a low heat for a few minutes.
Add a tin of coconut milk.
And 500ml vegetable stock, along with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce.
Squeeze in the juice of a lime.
Add two nests of noodles.
Traditional laksa uses rice noodles.
Traditional laksa is not made using what could be rustled up in Tesco Express, so I used egg noodles.
But then this IS laska we are talking about, so whatever noodles you can get will work.
Throw in the carrots and a tin of sweetcorn.
And simmer for about 5 minutes.
Do check a noodle first to make sure they are cooked through.
Finely shred some scallions (or spring onions or whatever you call them).
Despite not being able to source fresh lemongrass, my greengrocer did have freshly dug scallions, that were a little on the spindly side, so I didn't need to do much shredding.
Roughly chop some coriander.
Divide between two large bowls, topping with the coriander and spring onions, as well as a wedge of lime to squeeze over.
Spicy noodle soup
Serves 2. Cooking time 15 minutes.
- Thumb-sized piece ginger
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 red chilli
- 1 lime (plus extra wedges for garnishing)
- Handful coriander (plus 4 sprigs extra, for garnishing)
- 2 lemongrass stalks or 2 teaspoons lemongrass puree
- 2 carrots
- 2 nests noodles of your choice
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, light olive oil or vegetable oil
- 400ml tin coconut milk
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 325g tin sweetcorn
- 2 spring onions
- Peel the ginger and garlic.
- Remove the stalk from the chilli.
- Add the ginger, garlic and chilli to a food processor, along with the coriander and mint.
- Add the lemongrass or lemongrass puree, as well as the lime leaves.
- Blend, until finely chopped.
- Finely shred the carrots, using a julienne peeler, spiralizer or knife.
- Melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan.
- Add the spices to the pan, frying over a low heat for 5 minutes.
- Add the coconut milk and stock to the pan, along with the soy sauce and juice of the lime.
- Add the noodles, sweetcorn and the carrots, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the noodles are cooked.
- Finely shred the spring onions and reserved coriander.
- Divide the soup between two bowls, topping with the spring onions and coriander, as well as a lime wedge.