Vegetable Laksa

Vegetable Laksa

Laksa is a rich coconut milk-laced noodle broth. Spicy, tangy, sweet with loads of textures, this dish is a firework in each spoonful. Laksa is a noodle soup originating from descendants of early Chinese migrants who settled in Penang, Malacca, Singapore and Indonesia. 

I strongly believe that a great laksa is not made starting from a jar of paste, a great laksa starts with curry paste made from scratch using fresh ingredients as that is what gives it body and flavours. It is incredibly easy to make and packs the authentic flavour! Traditionally Laksa is made with rice noodles, seafood, a creamy coconut milk-based broth with plenty of seasonings and spices. The spices often include lemongrass, palm sugar, spicy chilies, and galangal among others. There are vegetarian versions available too with loads of fresh seasonal vegetables.

I had it for the first time in Singapore and just fell head over heels in love. Since then, I have been on the search for restaurants where I can find this delicious broth with the same punch. However, I have not yet found a place that serves Laksa with the same authenticity and punch. So, now I prefer making it myself because I cannot get the flavours out of my head and also it is quite simple and satisfying to make at home.

This laksa is spicy, tangy, creamy and just all the flavours that make you feel so good inside. A perfect dish to treat your vegan and/or gluten free friends and family. The great thing, to me, about Laksa is that you can change it so much to suit your own taste. For example, I like my Laksa a little more limey, so I tend to squeeze extra lime while eating. If you prefer it spicier, add extra chillies on top. The possibilities are endless.

Laksa is the king of soups. Seriously!!

Ingredients

For the Laksa Paste
1 2-inch piece roughly chopped galangal
1 2-inch piece roughly chopped fresh turmeric
1–2-inch piece roughly chopped ginger
10 cloves garlic
10 candlenuts
2 stems roughly chopped lemongrass
10 dry red chillies
2-3 fresh roughly chopped red chillies
1 red roughly chopped onion/shallot

Laksa
200 ml coconut milk
300 ml vegetable stock
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 pieces chopped in half tofu puffs
1-2 tablespoons mushroom soya sauce
salt to taste
1 -2 teaspoons palm sugar
1 cup bite sized mixed vegetables
200 g fresh thin rice noodles

Garnish
3-4 tablespoons bean sprouts
1 red chilli thinly sliced
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons mint leaves
Lime wedges

Directions

Step-1

Soak the dried chillies in hot water for 30 minutes.
In a food processor, add the dried chilli, red chilli, garlic, onion, ginger, galangal, turmeric, candle nuts and lemongrass stalk, then pulse for 5 minutes to form a thick paste. You can add a few tablespoons of water if needed.

Step-2

Add cooking oil to a pan then add the laksa paste and cook on medium to low heat for 5-10 minutes until fragrant. The paste should be golden with a layer of oil separating from the spices.

Step-3

Add the stock and coconut milk and bring it to a simmering boil. Add palm sugar, mushroom soya sauce, and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Simmer the broth for 5-10 minutes.

Step-4

Add the vegetables and cook for 2-3 of minutes to slightly soften the vegetables. I have used carrots, baby corn, mushrooms and beans.

Add tofu puffs and cook for 1-2 minutes to finish.

Step-5

Boil the rice noodles according to the packet instructions. Drain and shake off excess water.

Step-6

Take a serving of boiled noodles in a serving bowl and then pour the hot laksa broth. Top with bean sprouts, lime wedge, mint leaves, coriander and sliced chilli.

Serve hot!

Tips & Variations

  1. I prefer making the laksa paste at home however you can use the store bought laksa paste for convenience.
  2. If you do not have palm sugar, you can substitute coconut or brown sugar.
  3. I would highly recommend using full fat coconut milk for smoother, rich flavours.
  4. Traditionally candlenuts are used while making Laksa. Also known as ‘buah kemiri’ it is a staple ingredient used in many Malaysian and Indonesian cooking. It has a nutty flavour without being bitter.They look quite like macadamia nuts with a different flavour profile. Candlenuts are toxic when eaten raw so store them in a place that young children cannot reach. The best substitute for candlenuts is macadamia, brazil nut, or cashew.
  5. If you cannot find fried tofu puff, you can substitute it with regular firm tofu. Fried tofu puffs have a spongy texture. They will absorb the juice in the soup and make them so juicy. It is used in almost all Laksa versions.
  6. Sometimes laksa recipes call for blanched sprouts. However, I feel that the broth is so hot that the sprouts quickly soften and cook while eating and hence I prefer to add them raw. Feel free to blanch them for 1 minute if you would like to soften them.
  7. Do not try to substitute lemon grass. You will only get authentic flavour if you use fresh lemon grass. If you are unable to buy fresh lemon grass then you can use dried lemon grass too. Just soak it in warm water to soften it before grinding.
  8. Traditionally, galangal is used to make the curry paste. If you find it hard to buy, then just increase the quantity of ginger. It is worth looking for galangal if you can source it.
  9. While making Laksa egg noodles, rice sticks, vermicelli, and glass noodles all can be used. Sometimes I use a combination of 2 noodles and that taste super too.
  10. You can use any seasonal vegetables like broccoli, pak choi, sugar snaps, cauliflower, and peppers. Mushrooms bring a deep rich umami flavour to the broth so I would highly recommend using it.

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