Thursday, June 26, 2008

Laksa - Malaysian Baba-Nonya Style

Mmmmm, tasty Laska noodle soup warms you from the inside out, creamy, nourishing and satisfying. Laksa’s origins are in the Peranakan culture of Malaysia where it is made by Babas & Nonyas - the men & women descendants of Chinese settlers.

This recipe here is an ancestral recipe of my friend Audrey’s family. Audrey taught me how to cook this while she was taking a breather from writing her PhD thesis on the Pua Kumbu cloth-weavers of Sarawak. Her thesis uses the cloth as a lens to explore people's relationship with the environment and how women in the remote rainforests of Borneo engage with the global art market. Everything from logging the rainforests, to Climate Change is affecting and threatening the culture and hence the stories that are woven into the traditional designs.

This Laksa recipe uses whole prawns, shell and all, though you’d never know, as the shells are ground down with spices into a delicious and – yes – healthy paste. Glucosamine, which can be bought as an expensive nutritional supplement is actually made from prawn-shells – so this delicious dish will satisfy your elbows, knees, hips and shoulders, as well as your tastebuds!

Laksa Spice Paste
12 fresh green prawn-heads & shells
(reserve prawn meat with tails on for serving)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4-5 shallots, chopped
6-7 cloves garlic, chopped
thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled & chopped
1 teaspoon lemon-grass paste
1 fresh red chilli
1 tablespoon dried shrimp paste
a little water

4 tbsp vegetable oil
laksa paste (above)
1 litre of water
1 can coconut cream
1 packet of fish balls
1 packet of fried tofu puffs
1 lime, juiced

12 green prawns - shelled meat with tails on
1 teaspoon palm-sugar - mix with prawns & set aside

Assembly & Garnishes
rice vermicelli noodles
bean sprouts
red chilli, sliced
coriander leaves
deep-fried shallots
fresh lime wedges

Rinse the prawn heads & shells in water to remove grit. Heat oil in a large pot and fry prawn-heads until they turn red and crispy. Place in a food-processor, grinding the heads and shells into a fine paste. Add the remaining paste ingredients and process until smooth. Return the paste to the laksa stock-pot and continue to fry until fragrant. Remove 1/4 cup of paste, setting aside to serve as a condiment.

Add 1 litre of water to remaining paste. Bring to the boil. Add coconut cream and simmer for a few minutes. Add fish balls, fried tofu puffs and the shelled prawn-meat, poaching them in the laksa broth. Add lime juice just before serving.

Meanwhile, blanch rice-noodles in boiling water until softened. Transfer noodles to serving bowls, topping with a teaspoon of the reserved fried paste. Pour the broth over the noodles, topping with the poached fish balls, tofu & prawns. Garnish with the bean sprouts, chilli, coriander and fried shallots. Serve with a wedge of lime.



Lucy said...

Canot thank you enough for leaving a comment on my pages...has led me here, back to you.

And WHAT beautiful, calm pages yours are.

I want to eat everything. Have been pootling around your archive and shall continue to do so for some time, methinks. Lovely.

Tofu photography said...

Your presentation is just stunning Kyle!

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

I've been looking for a laksa recipe that does not use a packaged mix. Now, I have yours! Yey! I'm bookmarking this to make soon. . .Thanks for sharing1

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