Laksa

Laksa broth with noodles, tofu, tiger prawns, boiled egg and coriander garnish.

Laksa is my among my favourite dishes, its like a cuddle in a bowl. I have had this dish many times across South East Asia, and I can confidently say my recipe stands up to the very best. There are many different types of Laksa rather than it being a single dish, with many different styles from regional cuisines. My version is based on the classic curry Mee Laksa soup from Penang region of Malaysia.

The flavour of this dish comes from a wonderful curry paste which contains 24 ingredients in perfect harmony.  It is fried to release all its flavours then coconut milk, fish stock, soy sauce and fish sauce are added. The dish is assembled in a bowl with cooked noodles on the bottom, broth ladled over the top then pieces of cooked tofu are added along with  sliced spring onions, cooked tiger prawns, a boiled egg and a coriander garnish.

This might sound complicated, but its not. Its actually quite easy to make with results guaranteed to impress any foodie friends.

Please also view my recipe Mussels in Laksa Broth which is an excellent way to use the other half of the Laksa paste.

Notes: This recipe only uses half the paste, the other half can be frozen or stored in an airtight refrigerated container for up to 7 days. For the Tofu use pre fried pieces of silken tofu, either buy pre fried (available from Chinese supermarkets) or cut silken tofu into squares and fry in hot oil until golden brown. These can be portioned and kept in freezer for next time. For noodles I have used egg noodles but traditionally a mixture of rice and egg noodles is used, this is purely a personal preference. In terms of seafood I have used Tiger prawns but white fish, scallops and other shellfish can be added.

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This recipe is for two people

Preparation time 25 minutes, cooking time 15 minutes

Ingredients

For the curry paste:

2 red bird eye chillies – stalk and seeds removed

2 large red chillies – stalk and seeds removed

1 large green chilli – stalk and seeds removed

2 heaped tsp ground coriander

1 heaped tsp smoked paprika

1 heaped tsp ground cumin

1 heaped tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp medium hot chilli powder

2 medium sized brown onions – peeled

2 sticks lemon grass – bruise, inner part only, thinly sliced (for smoother paste)

Thumb sized piece root ginger – peel, finely chopped (for smoother paste)

Generous handful of peanuts

6 cloves garlic – peel

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tsp shrimp paste

2 tsp tamarind paste

3 heaped dessert spoons brown sugar

2 tbsp. fish sauce

2 tbsp. dark soy sauce

2 tbsp. hopped coriander stalks

Juice and zest of 1 lime

3 karrif lime leafs

4 cardamom pods

3 black peppercorns

Method: Add all the ingredients to a mini blender (or mortar and pestle) and blitz until a smooth paste is formed. Slicing the lemon grass and ginger before helps make a smoother paste. Use Half the paste for two portions, the remainder can be frozen (it keeps its flavours well) or stored in a refrigerated airtight container for up to 7 days. Please view my Mussels in Laksa Broth which is an excellent way to use the other half of the paste.

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For the dish:

4-6 large tiger prawns – devein but keep in shell and head on, 

Generous handful of pre fried tofu pieces – see notes in opening section

2 hard boiled eggs – add eggs to boiling water for 8-10 minutes, shell and half

2 portions of cooked egg noodles – see notes in opening section

4 spring onions – sliced on diagonal into 2-3cm lengths

Generous handful of coriander leaf – roughly chop

1 tbsp. dark sauce

1 tbsp. fish sauce

1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil

500ml fish stock – can use chicken as alternative

500ml coconut milk – do not use half fat, doesn’t work 😦

1 lime cut into wedges – to serve

Brown sugar – only use if required to balance flavour

Method: Start by heating 1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil in a deep frying pan or wok then add the paste. Stir fry for 6-8 minutes until the oil starts to separate from the paste. Add the coconut milk and fish stock and heat until it starts to boil then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add a tbsp. of fish sauce and dark soy sauce then taste test, if it requires more seasoning add a little extra, if it is too strong add a little sugar to balance it.

Heat 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a separate frying pan over a high heat. Once oil is smoking hot add the prawns and cook for approx. 90 seconds on each side, just until the prawns turn pink, then remove from heat and drain on absorbent paper. The hot stock will finish the prawns off, so make sure you do not over cook them.

Bring the laksa broth back to the boil then turn off heat and serve. Place the cooked noodles on the bottom of the bowl, then ladle the hot broth over the noodles. Add pieces of pre cooked tofu, sliced spring onions, boiled egg halves, the cooked tiger prawns and a little chopped coriander to finish. Enjoy.

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Tiger prawns with Red Curried crab and Wok Fried Rice Noodles

A delicious Thai dish with wok fried marinated rice noodles, stir fried crab in red curry paste, topped with pan fried Indonesian Tiger Prawns.

Normally I feel a bit sheepish about describing my recipes, but as this recipe was created by Mrs Ferret chef I feel that I can praise it without feeling silly. This was truly delicious and worthy of a good Thai restaurant, the kind of dish you would happily pay good money for and return for it time after time.

This dish uses the same curry paste used in my Thai King Prawn Red curry – so is an excellent way to make two very different meals from the same curry paste. Remember this paste freezes very well or can be stored in a refrigerated air tight container for up to 5 days.

Its important to use good prawns, and Indonesian tiger prawns in their shells are the best I can get in Edinburgh at the moment. Keep the heads on prawns when you cook them, there is so much flavour in them, and take care to remove them from the heat the second they are cooked – overcooked prawns are such a disappointment.

This dish may seem fiddly but it is really quite easy to cook. There are three elements to the dish. The Prawns are fried quickly in hot oil, the crab is fried in the curry paste and cooked rice noodles are wok fried in a marinade. None of these are complicated but as with all good dishes they are worth doing right.

For an optional garnish separate some uncooked dried rice noodles and add to hot oil, they will quickly puff up, remove them from oil and drain on absorbent paper. They add a wonderful texture to this and many other Thai dishes, and can be stored in an airtight jar for next time.

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Preparation 30-35 minutes, cooking time less than 20 minutes

Ingredients

For the curry paste:

8 cloves garlic – peeled
thumb of ginger – peeled and slice thinly
2 large red chillies – remove stalk, keep seeds
4 red bird eye chillies – remove stalk keep seeds
Zest and juice of 1 lime
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp tamarind paste
2 tsp shrimp paste
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. coriander stalks
4 dessert spoons brown sugar
3 dessert spoons desiccated coconut
6 black peppercorns
2 sticks lemongrass – bruise, remove outer husk, slice thinly
Handful of peanuts
8-10 Thai basil leafs – remove stalk
2 lime leafs
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp coriander powder

Method: Use a mini chopper, food processor or mortar and pestle to pound into a smooth paste. Slicing ginger and lemongrass beforehand makes it much easier to form a smooth paste. Once a smooth paste has been formed separate into two even portions. As mentioned above the spare portion can be frozen or stored in an airtight refrigerated container for up to 5 days.

For the curried crab

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 tablespoons of  curry paste – see above
1 tin white crab meat

For the Tiger prawns

4 Tiger prawns – devein but keep head and shell on
2 tbsp. vegetable oil

For the wok fried rice noodles

2 portions of pre cooked rice noodles
3 to 4 cloves garlic – minced
Thumb of ginger – cut into fine matchsticks
125ml fish stock
1 red bell pepper – sliced into thin strips
Handful coriander – roughly chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce

Method: In a bowl combine the stock, fish sauce, dark soy, light soy, sugar, lime and sweet chilli sauce. Mix well until combined and set aside ready to add to the wok.

Optional garnishes

Fried rice noodles – see opening paragraph
handful of peanuts
2-3 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander

Cooking Method

To cook the curried crab:  Heat 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan, add the curry paste and fry for 5 minutes. Add the crab just before serving and use the back of a spoon to stir it through the sauce (to prevent crab breaking up). Set aside and heat through just before serving.

To cook the prawns: Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan until smoking hot, add the prawns and fry for 1-2 minutes on each side. The second the prawn turns pink turn it over, once it is pink on both sides remove from oil and drain on absorbent paper. The prawns will stay hot in their shells for at least 5 minutes, so cook them then fry the rice noodles.

To cook the rice noodles:  heat 2 tbsp.  vegetable oil in the wok until smoking hot, add the garlic, ginger and bell pepper and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the rice noodles, stir well then pour in the sauce from the bowl (see ingredients section). Stir fry until the sauce has almost been absorbed or cooked off, this will take 4-5 minutes.

To assemble dish: Place bed of noodles on plate, then ladle the curried crab on top. Place the prawns on top of the curried crab then sprinkle the garnishes on top.

 

 

Thai King Prawn Red curry

Delicious curry made with a fresh homemade curry paste, with King Prawns, green beans and Thai herbs.

Like all good Thai curries the secret is using a fresh homemade paste. Don’t use the ones in jars from the supermarket, they simply don’t have the flavour. This recipe gives enough paste for two meals, simply store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze it – it defrosts well and doesn’t loose its flavour. I will feature a number of other recipes using this paste in the coming weeks.

The dish itself is very quick and easy to cook and will bring back those memories of Bangkok or sitting on a perfect Thai beach. I wish I was there now!

Serves two people

Preparation 15 minutes, cooking time approx. 15 minutes

Ingredients and method

For the curry paste

8 cloves garlic – peeled

thumb of ginger – peeled and slice thinly

2 large red chillies – remove stalk, keep seeds

4 red bird eye chillies – remove stalk keep seeds

Zest and juice of 1 lime

3 tbsp. vegetable oil

2 tsp tamarind paste

2 tsp shrimp paste

2 tbsp. fish sauce

1 tbsp. coriander stalks

4 dessert spoons brown sugar

3 dessert spoons desiccated coconut

6 black peppercorns

2 sticks lemongrass – bruise, remove outer husk, slice thinly

Handful of peanuts

8-10 Thai basil leafs – remove stalk

2 lime leafs

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp coriander powder

Method: Use a mini chopper, food processor or mortar and pestle to pound into a smooth paste. Slicing ginger and lemongrass beforehand makes it much easier to form a smooth paste. Once a smooth paste has been formed separate into two even portions. As mentioned above the spare portion can be frozen or stored in an airtight refrigerated container for up to 5 days.

For the main dish

2 portions of jasmine rice – cook as per packet instructions

200g raw King prawns –  shell and head removed

200ml coconut milk

150ml water

70g fine green beans – cut into 4-5cm batons

2 tbsp. roughly chopped coriander leaf

4 spring onions (white part only) – slice diagonally into 4cm lengths

8-10 Thai basil leafs – remove stalk

1 lime – cut into wedges to garnish

Method: Start by frying the paste in a non stick pan, as there is oil in the paste there should be no need to add extra, if paste sticks to pan loosen with a little water rather than adding oil. As the rice takes a similar time start to cook it now as per packet instructions. Fry paste for 4-5 minutes until the paste moves round pan as a single mass, take care not to let paste stick to pan and burn. Add the coconut milk and the water and stir well until fully combined, bring to boil and simmer for 7-8 minutes. Add the green beans and the spring onion and simmer for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the raw king prawns to the sauce and poach them, bring back to a simmer and continue to cook until the prawns change from grey to pink. Remove from heat and serve immediately along with the cooked jasmine rice. Garnish the dish with the coriander, Thai basil and lime wedges.

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Indonesian Prawn Curry

A delicious Indonesian curry with King prawns and potatoes.

This curry uses the same paste used for my two other Indonesian dishes currently on my blog, Nasi Goreng and Mee Goreng. The paste is fried in a little oil, then par boiled potatoes, fish stock, coriander leaf and coconut milk are added.  The curry is simmered for 35 minutes until the potatoes are cooked and absorb the wonderful aromatic flavours. Just before serving butterflied king prawns are added and poached in the sauce.

The dish works well with rice, noodles or breads such as Paratha. It is quite filling by itself due to the potatoes.

You only require half the paste for this recipe, the same as Nasi and Mee goreng. The remainder can be stored in an airtight refrigerated container for up to 5 days or stored in a freezer – it defrosts really well and doesn’t lose its flavour.

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Serves 2 people

Preparation time 10 minutes, cooking time 35-40 minutes

Ingredients and method

For the curry paste:

1 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
Handful peanuts
1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp turmeric
2 white onions – peeled
Thumb of root ginger – peeled, roughly chop
2 stalks lemon grass – discard outer husks, thinly slice
6 cloves garlic – peel
2 large red chillies
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 dessert spoon brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Ketchup manis
Juice of 1/2 a lime
Method: Use a min blender to blitz into a smooth paste. Chopping the tough ingredients before blending helps make a smooth paste. Only use half for this recipe, the remainder can be frozen or stored in the fridge (see notes above).

For the main dish

1/2 the curry paste

1-2 tbsp. vegetable oil

350g raw king prawns – peel, devein, butterfly

2 portions of potatoes – cut into 3-4cm cubes

350ml fish stock

500ml coconut milk

2 tsp dried coriander leaf

Method: start by par boiling the potatoes in boiling water for 6-7 minutes, rinse and drain then set aside. Heat 1-2 tbsp. of oil in a wok or deep frying pan then fry the paste for 4-5 minutes, add a little fish stock if it begins to catch on the pan. Add the potatoes, dried coriander, 300ml fish stock and the coconut milk, stir well. Heat until sauce starts to bubble then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. If the sauce has reduced too much then add a little extra fish stock to loosen the sauce. After this add the prawns and poach them in the sauce until they turn from grey to pink. Heat sauce until it starts to bubble again then serve.

 

 

Turmeric, Chilli and Lime Salmon with Lentil Dahl curry and Pilau rice

Salmon fillets, marinated in lime and turmeric then pan-fried. Served with a Dahl style lentil curry and pilau rice. Garnished with some sliced tomato, red onion and coriander.

This dish may look a little yellow, but don’t let that fool you – this is one of best curries I have designed in a while.

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Serves two people

Preparation time 20 minutes, cooking time 50-60 minutes

Ingredients

For the salmon:

2 skinless salmon fillets

Juice of two limes

2 teaspoons ground turmeric

1 red bird eye chilli – thinly sliced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil – to fry salmon

Method: In a bowl mix the turmeric, sliced chilli and lime juice. Put salmon in bowl and give a god coating on all sides. Put in a fridge for at least an hour before cooking (best 2-3 hours) and remove 30 minutes before cooking to bring back to room temperature. The marinade will change the salmon from pink to yellow and infuse it with a wonderful flavour. To cook, heat two tablespoons of oil in a wide frying pan over a medium high heat. Cook the salmon for 4-5 minutes on each side then remove and place on absorbent paper to drain before serving.

For Dahl curry

125g red lentils – washed thoroughly

2 -3 round tomatoes – remove skin and seeds

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 large white onion

3-4 cloves garlic

1 green chilli – thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon ground asafoetida

1 teaspoon salt – extra to taste

water

8-10 curry leafs

Garnish – 1 sliced tomato, 1 sliced red onion and chopped coriander

Method: Start by heating the oil in a deep pan over a medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and fry until the begin to start to pop then add the onion, chilli, tomato and the garlic. Fry for 3-4 minutes then add the turmeric, stir well and fry for an additional minute then add the washed lentils and stir well. Add enough water to completely cover the lentils and bring to a simmer. Add the curry leafs , a  teaspoon of salt and the asafoetida , stir well,  and reduce heat to a simmer for 50 minutes, checking each 10 minutes and adding extra water as the lentils thicken and water cooks off. The dish is ready when the lentils break down and the sauce is at your chosen consistency. Before serving taste for seasoning and add additional salt to your taste. Add some sliced tomato, red onion and coriander as a garnish to the dish when served.

Pilau rice

150 basmati or long grain rice – rinsed thoroughly
1 white onion – diced
2 cloves garlic – thinly sliced
15g butter
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
4 cloves
4 cardamom pods
Bay leaf
Pinch saffron
Chicken stock – twice the volume of the rinsed rice

You require a medium to large pan with a tight-fitting lid (glass is best)
Method: melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat then add the onion, garlic and all the spices. Stir and fry for around 4 minutes until the onion softens and the spices become aromatic. Add the rice and stir through until the rice is fully coated and the mixed through the spiced onion mixture. Add twice the volume of stock to the volume of rice, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pan with a tight-fitting lid and leave on a low heat. Let the rice drink the stock as it cooks, it should take around 10 minutes for the rice to fully absorb the stock. Once stock is fully absorbed carefully remove pan lid and fluff rice with a fork before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Wing Curry and Pilau rice

Using a wonderful tomato based curry paste to slow cook skinless on the bone chicken wings for a delicious curry dish. Served with flavoured pilau rice.

I was inspired to make this dish after watching an old episode of Rick Steins India where he watched a fisherman’s wife make a white fish curry. It got me thinking that using similar techniques and a modified version of her curry paste with chicken on the bone could make a wonderful dish. Turns out I was right, if I don’t say so myself. This dish is also nice and healthy as there is not much oil used and no cream or coconut milk, with no compromise on flavour.

The curry paste is made in a mini blender out of tomato, onion, garlic, cumin seeds, ground turmeric, paprika, black peppercorns, salt, ginger and chillies – all blitzed into a smooth curry paste. Mustard seeds are fried in hot oil until they begin to pop then the curry paste is fried to release its wonderful flavours and aromas. I removed the skins from some good quality chicken wings which were browned in the fried curry paste. Next some water was added to loosen the sauce along with some curry leafs and a little sugar before turning down the heat and simmering uncovered for 40-50 minutes. The curry is finished off with a little chicken stock and some chopped coriander just before serving.

This curry would work well with your choice of rice or Indian bread, I served it with a simple pilau rice which complemented the flavours very well. This is simple to make and can be easily cooked towards the end of the curry process. Onions, bay, sliced garlic, ground cinnamon, ground coriander, ground turmeric, cardamom, cloves and saffron are fried in some melted butter until softened. Washed rice is then added and stirred until each grain is coated. Twice the rice volume of chicken stock is added then the heat is reduced, pan covered and left to simmer until the stock has been fully absorbed. The rice is fluffed up with a fork and then served. I use this rice recipe with some of my other Indian dishes such as Special Cod Makhani  and Chicken Makhani.

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Serves two people

Preparation 20 minutes, cooking time 1 hour

Ingredients

For the curry paste:

4 round tomatoes

3 onions – mixture of red and white is best

6 cloves garlic – peeled

Tsp cumin seeds

Tsp ground turmeric

Tsp Paprika

Tsp Salt

4 black peppercorns

1/2 thumb of ginger – peel and chop finely before adding to blender

2 large red chillies – remove seeds for less spicy

2 red bird eye chillies – remove seeds for less spicy

Method: add to a min blender/mini chopper and blitz into a smooth paste.

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For main dish:

500g skinless chicken wings – must be on the bone

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

12 fine green beans – trimmed, cut in half

6-8 curry leafs

1-2 tsp sugar

Handful coriander leaf – roughly chopped

water to loosen sauce

Chicken stock – I used approx. 150ml

Method: Add 1-2  tablespoons of vegetable oil to a non stick pan, preferably a wide, deep frying pan, over a medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds and fry them until they begin to pop. Add the curry paste and stir fry for 4-5 minutes until fragrant then add the chicken wings and brown them in the paste. Add approx. a mug of water to loosen the sauce then add the curry leafs, green beans and a teaspoon of sugar. Stir through, bring back to the boil then reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 45-50 minutes. The sauce will slowly reduce as it cooks so you will need to add some chicken stock to bring it to your chosen consistency, I used approx. 150ml stock but this depends upon how thick or thin you like your curry sauce. A few minutes before serving, heat the sauce through (if required), add the coriander and stir it through the dish.

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For the pilau rice:

150 basmati or long grain rice – rinsed thoroughly 

1 white onion – diced

2 cloves garlic – thinly sliced

15g butter

1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground coriander

4 cloves

4 cardamom pods

Bay leaf

Pinch saffron

Chicken stock – twice the volume of the rinsed rice 

You require a medium to large pan with a tight fitting lid (glass is best)

Method: melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat then add the onion, garlic and all the spices. Stir and fry for around 4 minutes until the onion softens and the spices become aromatic. Add the rice and stir through until the rice is fully coated and the mixed through the spiced onion mixture. Add twice the volume of stock to the volume of rice, bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pan with a tight fitting lid and leave on a low heat. Let the rice drink the stock as it cooks, it should take around 10 minutes for the rice to fully absorb the stock. Once stock is fully absorbed carefully remove pan lid and fluff rice with a fork before serving.

 

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