One of my favourite Nyonya meals is a big, steaming bowl of laksa soup. The spicy broth, puffy tofu pillows, crunchy sprouts and juicy prawns all combine to make the most wonderfully filling meal. This is my take on a Malaysian staple, with a few quirks thrown in. If you’re not into seafood, add some shredded cooked chicken instead.
Makes: 4 serves
Takes: 15 minutes to prep; 10 minutes to cook
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons laksa paste
800ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
400g vermicelli noodles
1 cup diced cooked pumpkin
1 cup julienned or grated zucchini
1 cup julienned or grated carrot
1 cup julienned or grated daikon radish
1 cup mung bean sprouts
300g precooked prawns, peeled and deveined
100g tofu puffs, halved
handful fresh coriander leaves
Method: To make the broth, place the sesame oil and laksa paste in a frying pan over a medium-high heat and fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Add the coconut milk, 2 cups water, brown sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer, cooking for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the flavours as needed: sugar for sweetness, fish sauce for saltiness or lime juice for sourness.
Meanwhile, cook the vermicelli noodles according to the packet instructions. Divide the cooked vermicelli between four large soup bowls and top each bowl with equal amounts of pumpkin, zucchini, carrot, daikon and bean sprouts. Do the same with the prawns and tofu puffs. Top each bowl with a generous ladling of the piping-hot broth and sprinkle with coriander leaves to garnish.
Tip: Store-bought pastes are great to have on hand. Look for a brand that contains no added preservatives or colourings. A little goes a long way, and it will keep well in the fridge.