First of all, Ramadan Mubarak, a joyous and blessed holiday to all my Moslem friends and visitors!
And now for today's lunch (which was prepared with a halal chicken from my neighborhood Islamic butcher shop...quality meat and reasonable prices). As I stated in my last post, I've decided to do a recipe for every flag that appears on my sidebar. Today's recipe is from Malaysia, a very delicious Laksa.
I got the recipe here at www.soupsong.com. If you want to follow along you can get today's recipe precisely here: soupsong Laksa recipe. An excellent site and a must for you soup lovers out there. Also, there is an extensive collection of international soup recipes, enough to keep me busy making soup for many weekends to come!
I actually made three trips to the supermarket for this recipe and here are some of the ingredients (the easy ones).
This is where I ran into difficulty. There are just so many Asian herbs...is this Laksa leaf? It's the very essential ingredient and so I did not want to make a mistake.
Or is this Laksa leaf? The recipe calls for "Asian basil"...I live in Paris and everything has a different French name, even Asian herbs. The first herb was labelled rau ram in the Asian grocey store and the second was labelled "Thai basilic" who's to know? In the end I went to www.asiafood.org where the Laksa leaf entry refers to "Vietnamese mint" and I chose the first green herb pictured above...what a lovely smell it has.
This recipe has several steps to it:
First you must have cooked chicken and four cups of stock (I suggest you make your own it's so much nicer),
Secondly you must make a spice paste for the flavor,
Thirdly you must cook some noodles and prepare everything for the final soup, and
Finally you put the soup together and make the garnish plate.
Since I would be needing cooked chicken and stock, the first thing to do was make both. I decided to follow my instincts on this one and so I made my stock using some of my green herbs (I bought lots of different kinds), fresh ginger slices and scallions.
This is the start of the spice paste: lemon grass (only the tender hearts), galangal (like ginger but milder), shrimp paste, garlic, scallions, and some red hot peppers.
This goes into the food processor and the recipe says it should look like "a speckled mush" well, perhaps.
Then once that is done, you add some chopped coriander, some tamarind paste, some sugar and some tumeric.
And I put the food processor back in the cupboard and get out my trusty morter and pestle...the food processor makes everything just too watery and this is supposed to be a "paste".
Here is the cooked chicken (from the chicken I used to make the stock with) and the cooked rice noodles.
Here is the sauce that I made by frying the spice paste in two tablespoons of peanut oil until lightly colored, then adding four cups of my homeade stock plus a mix of 1/4 cup chopped coriander and 1/4 cup chopped laksa leaf and then adding a can of coconut milk.
And here is the final Laksa lunch. First I put some of the noodles into a bowl, then I added some chicken, and then I ladled some of the sauce on top. Serve with a plate of various greenery and condimets...really delicious and your kitchen will indeed smell wonderful if you make this.
Just a bowl of Laksa.
Wow, what an adventure but I still have so many questions. I liked this dish and my daughters liked it too but...was this really Laksa and did I pick the right leaves? I would really appreciate any comments, criticism, or suggestions on how to make an even better Laksa! What a fun afternoon cooking.
So, next weekend I think we will head to Mexico and I am going to spend the week searching for a most traditional Mexican dish. In the meantime I will be posting my usual sandwiches and various other things from the office...
Thanks for stopping by and Happy Lunching!