After the Indian Banquet debacle (bread like wood, one recipe didn’t even get to, another as sweet as jam), I decided to keep it simple(r). So I plumped for a tried and tested recipe from my favourite cook of all time Rick Stein. It’s a seafood Laksa; a cross between a spicy soup and a curry. It’s simple, it’s delicious and I picked it as a confidence booster for my dented ego.
There are only three steps. The first is the stock and it’s made all the more flavoursome by first frying the prawn heads and shells, adding stock and letting it simmer for 10 minutes or so. Strain the liquid and set aside. Dead easy.
Then you make the paste. Roughly chop (see exact amounts below) dried & fresh chillies, cashew nuts, lemongrass stalks, garlic, galangal or ginger, and shallots to a hand blender or pestle and mortar. Add turmeric powder, shrimp paste and a couple of tablespoons of water. Blend to a paste. Fry the paste in oil until fragrant (about 5-6 minutes) add the strained stock and simmer for 10 minutes.
Then finally add the coconut milk, prawns, squid, fish sauce and sugar. Cook until the seafood is tender.
Add cooked noodles and beansprouts to the bottom of noodle bowls, pour over the laksa sauce and garnish with coriander, mint, chopped chillies, spring onions and batons of cucumber. Voila. This has to be one of my favourite dishes because it is easy and very tasty. Serve with ice cold beer or Pinot Grigio.
250g raw unpeeled prawns
Vegetable oil, for shallow and deep-frying
400ml coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp palm or light brown muscovado sugar
300g dried rice vermicelli noodles
3 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal
A handful of mixed mint and coriander leaves
3 dried red kashmiri chillies, split open and the seeds shaken out
2 medium-hot fresh red chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
20g nuts (macadamia, unsalted peanuts or cashew nuts)
2 stalks lemongrass, core chopped
3 fat garlic cloves
3cm piece peeled galangal or ginger, roughly chopped
1 tsp turmeric powder
75g shallots, roughly chopped
2 tsp blachan (shrimp paste)
1 tbsp vegetable oil