Alix Clark is the editor of SBS food magazine Feast. In this regular series, she will choose a different dish from Feast magazine and recreate it in her own kitchen. With Chinese New Year celebrations upon us, we've chosen a Malaysin curry laksa:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love soup. It comes in a million varieties, it's easy to make in large quantities (I’m a fan of a well-stocked freezer), and has restorative powers that seem to be greater than the sum of its parts. But I had never made laksa. Oh, I’ve eaten plenty of laksa, with gusto, but it just wasn’t a soup that had made its way onto my cooking roster. But seeing it in all its glory gave me the motivation to give it a shot.
While I was familiar with all the ingredients, I didn’t have many of them in the cupboard, so I headed to Sydney’s Burwood, where Asian supermarkets abound. I wandered into the Jasmine Food Market and purposefully collected a bag of tofu puffs and some bean sprouts, and then… my mission ground to a halt; the range at Jasmine is extensive and my inability to find any of the other ingredients made me realise how much we rely on recognising packaging when we shop. Or is that just me? Thankfully, a store employee saw my dilemma and quickly filled my basket with the remainder of my list. All I needed was a tin of wasabi peas to snack on in the car and I was done.
Putting the laksa paste together was simple and satisfying – that list of spicy goodness (even the stinky belacan [shrimp paste]) combined to create a wonderful flavour base. I was surprised to see sweet paprika in the ingredient list – it’s not a spice that I would have associated with Malaysian cuisine. I also decided to make a double quantity of the paste, so I could have some in the fridge to make soup in a snap the next time I had a laksa craving. I only have a large food processor (note to Mr Ed, my birthday is coming up – a small food processor would be nice!), and I needed to add a little of the shrimp soaking water to get it to come together. It didn’t process quite as finely as I would have liked, so there were a few stringy lemongrass strands in there.
Once the paste was done, the laksa came together quickly and easily – as simple as boiling water (or in this case, stock) really. Mr Ed is not generally a fan of soup for dinner but he finished his off with a flourish and declared it delicious. I loved all the different elements – especially the tofu puffs and the rice noodles – and the flavours were fabulous. Not too spicy, but certainly plenty going on there. And there was enough left over for seconds – or the freezer!
Now it’s your turn to give us some laksa love! Here's Feast's recipe for Malay curry laksa.
What's your tip for making the perfect laksa? Tell us about it in the comments section below. Or head to twitter and Facebook to share your thoughts with other Peregrine travellers. Check out all Peregrine's trips to Malaysia, and celebrate the Chinese New Year in style!
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