So anything that classifies as “Chinese” or “Chinese-Malaysian” food is the taste of home to me. My mum was the most amazing cook, and had this endless energy and drive when it came to cooking for the family. Most of my long-time, inner-circle friends would have been to the Yap house while we were growing up to have a meal or three and will know what I mean.
I have always loved to cook. It relaxes me, and it gives me a sense of achievement when I am done… a bit like painting a piece of art (which I actually haven’t done in many years due to lack of time), but has the added benefit of the finished product having the practical advantage of feeding the family at the end!
HOWEVER, although in my opinion, my mum’s food was the best in the world… she wasn’t in paid employment – so some of her recipes (especially in preparation for a significant birthday/event or Chinese New Year would take several DAYS to prepare and she was cool with that. I on the other hand, have to be a little sneaky when I prepare stuff. It can’t take days – I ain’t got time for that! This yummy laksa recipe has a little cheat in it to make prep a little faster.
I don’t generally like to cook anything from bottles. Even things like minced garlic and ginger (although very convenient and for when I am in a real hurry I still have the bottled stuff in the fridge) tastes INFINITELY BETTER if prepared fresh. But of course the limiting factor is TIME!! So what is the happy medium then?
–> Cook from a bottle to save TIME but compromise on FLAVOUR? Or prep everything fresh and take a zillion years but have it taste AH-MAZING?
For me, the answer is sometime in between. You can’t cook a meal from a bottle and expect it to taste like the real thing in a restaurant. It just doesn’t happen. Flavour comes from fresh, quality ingredients… but you CAN use a bottle, and enhance the flavours with fresh ingredients. This is exactly what I do with this recipe and my dad thinks it tastes authentic (he doesn’t wax lyrical when it comes to critiquing my food!).
- Homemade chilli sauce (see past recipe!)
- 2 cups of chicken stock
- 1.5 tbs oil
- 4-5 cloves of garlic (crushed or chopped finely)
- 4 cm piece of ginger – Microplaned
- Stalks of a small bunch of coriander – finely chopped
- 1 stalk of lemongrass – white part only (or 2 squeezes from a tube of freshly minced lemongrass)
- 2-4 birdseye chillies finely chopped (you can omit or change these depending on how hot you want your laksa to be)
- 175-200g laksa paste (see gallery above – MY favourite brand is “Por Kwan,” but you can use whatever brand you like eg “Ayam”)
- 400g can coconut milk (I like to use light but it is up to you)
- 1-2 tsp fish sauce
- Small tin of chopped pineapple pieces (or fresh if you’ve got it)
- 50g dried rice vermicelli (“bee hoon”) noodles (about 1 large cake or 3 small)
- 100g thick Hokkien noodles (I use a those vacuum sealed fresh wet packs you get in the Asian section of the supermarket)
- Handful of fresh bean sprouts in the bottom of each bowl
- 80g fried tofu puffs (+/- fish tofu squares if you like them – I do)
- 4 chicken thigh fillets – chopped into short strips and browned in the wok
- 10-15 medium (banana/tiger) prawns peeled, deveined, butterflied and work fried with salt and pepper
- 6-8 large tiger prawns fried whole with shells and heads on (2 each bowl) to garnish bowls.
- Fresh coriander leaves
- Lime wedges
- Crispy fried shallots (buy these in a packet at the supermarket)
- Finely sliced chilli
- 150g sugar snap/snow peas – topped and tailed and blanched in boiling water for 1 min( then remove to a bowl of cold water straight away)
- 1-2 large Lebanese cucumbers – chopped into chunks and served on the side
- Heat oil in a large pot over a medium heat. Fry your aromatics: garlic, ginger, chopped coriander stems, ginger and saute until fragrant (about 30-60 sec). Add chillies
- Add laksa paste. Fry for 2 min until fragrant. Keep stirring so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pot
- Add 2 cups of chicken stock, coconut milk, 1 tsp of fish sauce and 1-2 tsp of your homemade hot chilli sauce (depends on how hot you want it, and how hot your chilli sauce is!)
- Add pineapple pieces
- Add tofu puff to the laksa broth (I also sometimes use fish tofu squares)
- Add fried chicken pieces to the broth
- Prepare rice and egg noodles according to instructions on the pack (usually soak in boiling water ~ 5 min)
- Put a handful of fresh bean sprouts in the bottom of each bowl, divide sugar snap peas too
- Divide noodles into bowls (I usually do 4 fairly large bowls with this recipe)
- Divide cooked peeled prawns between bowls
- Pour laksa broth over noodles and prawns
- Garnish with
- A few beansprouts
- 1-2 large tiger prawns
- presh sprigs of coriander leaves
- fresh sliced red chillies
- fried dry shallots
- sugar snap peas
- wedges of lime (some people like their broth more sour than others so let them decide)
- Serve with homemade chilli sauce and chunks of Lebanese cucumber on the side.
This is an awesome winter dinner and fantastic to clear the sinuses when you have a head cold!!
Mind you, it is a dish that I enjoy any time
Let me know if you try it, and how it goes!