There are various types of Laksa across Malaysia, Indondonesia and Singapore, this recipe most closely resembles curry laksa; a spicy coconut based curry soup. It is often made with chicken or fish but this one makes the most of lovely fresh vegetables and is adapted to be suitable for vegans.
You can follow the recipe and make your own laksa paste or you can buy a ready made paste if you prefer but check the ingredients carefully because most of them contain fish sauce which is most definitely NOT vegan.
At a push you could use a thai paste but, again, check for fish sauce in the ingredients.
I made this for dinner for Martin and I on Sunday evening. I have commited to following a vegan diet for Lent but, as Sunday is usually the day when I have time to cook something special, I wanted to try something new. It had been a hideously wet and windy day and Martin had been out playing hockey so I knew he would appreciate something warming and tasty. This Laksa really hit the spot.
For the Paste
2 Banana Shallots
2 Lemon Grass Stalks
1″ Piece of Galangal (or fresh ginger)
1 tbsp Cashew Nuts
2 Cloves of Garlic
3 Red Chillies
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1/2/ tsp Paprika
1 tsp Ground Coriander
2 tbsp Groundnut Oil (or other flavourless vegetable oil)
For the Soup
400ml can Coconut Milk
1 Pint of Vegan Vegetable Stock
100g / 4 oz Rice Noodles
2 tbsp Groundnut Oil
200g / 8 oz Mushrooms (A mix of shiitake/mini portobello/oyster)
2 Pak Choi (cut in half or quarters – lengthways)
100g / 4 oz Baby Sweetcorn
100g / 4 oz Mange Tout
200g / 8 oz Tenderstem Broccoli
A handful of fresh coriander
To make the paste
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a small frying pan and add the turmeric, cumin, paprika and ground coriander. Cook over a medium heat for a minute or two until the spices are aromatic but be careful not to burn them.
Peel the shallotts, garlic and galangal and cut into chunks. Remove the tough outer leaves from the lemon grass and bash the stalk with a rolling pin then cut it into 1″ lengths. Remove the stalk from the chillies and deseed them if you want to control the heat a little bit.
Put all the paste ingredients into a food processor and blitz until it is well blended. You can now put the paste into a screw top jar or other sealed container and it will keep for a week or so in the fridge.
To make the Soup
Cook the vegetables in batches then set aside:
Dice the aubergine and cook until browned in 1 tbsp oil. Sautee the mushrooms in the same pan adding a little more oil if needed.
Steam the broccoli, corn, mange tout and pak choi until tender.
Put the noodles into a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over them. Set aside for five minutes or until soft.
Place 2 tbsp of the laksa paste into a large, deep sautee pan or wok. Cook for a minute or two until fragrant – add a little more oil if it sticks and then add the coconut milk and stock . Bring to the boil. Season with salt and pepper and taste. Add more laksa paste if required.
Add the noodles and vegetables and reheat. Serve in warmed bowls topped with some fresh chopped coriander.