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Monday, September 23, 2013

Laksa Soup - Our Way


 Most of the time when it rains or if it’s getting dark and gray, we often make hearty warm soups. This makes us feel rejuvenated even after having a tiring day out. I have loved probably most of the soup recipes which have loads of veggies or pearl barley soup or even a spinach soup.Curry Laksa soup was always on my mind since the time I happen to read it in a cook book which featured many other Oriental recipes. And from then the bug of having home-made warm Laksa soup hit me hard.


I seldom read cook books and even if I happen to read cook books, I generally forget about everything written once I put down the book. It is rare that something gets stored in my mind and tops in the “to-do-list”. Yes, you read it right I rarely read cook books. But then there comes some good cook books which is sort of food bible to most of us and it’s not that easy to jump pages quickly, well it does keep you engrossed. And then I wonder why on earth I didn't get a chance to read it beforehand. While we were in library one fine day and I happen to read a cook book by a famous food writer, where I got to read the recipe for laksa soup.

What I read, I liked it and then imagined myself, I was sitting on the lap of snow-clad mountains some where near in Bhutan- a place near to Bengal , wearing that traditional dress of those nice Bhutanese people , relaxing with a warm bowl of fresh home-made laksa soup( oh! Laksa is more of a Malay or a Singaporean meal and has many variations specific to particular region.)And that made-up picture itself was so rejuvenating.So, while coming back to home; I promised to myself I am sure going to make it. And then that curry laksa soup was introduced for the first time in our dinner menu that day.

And then it just happened few days back that I made Laksa soup again, so thought of writing the recipe here before this thing slips out of mind or if I forget to take snaps. The basic recipe for Laksa soup is little modified here to suit our Indian taste –buds, so I happen to add red pepper powder to make it spicier. I don’t have the usual ingredients like “belacan”- which is dried shrimp paste, galangal and lemongrass in my pantry, but then I replaced them with what ever I had in my pantry. Fresh root ginger, lemon juice and fish sauce that is what I had and yes it has all of them. I guess it is more or less a refined version of "Johor Laksa" which comes from southern Malaysia.
Please use the recipe as just mere guidelines and if you are looking for traditional laksa soup, then visit some other place. But come to think of it “traditions”, is all about what one believes in and what ever we happen to pass on to next generations ahead of us. My family tradition might be slightly different form yours , but the core of the thing is “believing” in it and “practicing” it.


Laksa Soup
Recipe requirements

  • About 2-3 nests of fine egg noodles or
  • 2-3 nests of Rice noodles
  • Half a can of thick coconut milk
  • 200 Gms of shrimps
  • 3-4 cups of broth or water
  • 2 cups of 2 inch long cut strips of green beans
  • Any other vegetables of your choice like
  • Bean sprouts
  • Bok choy
  • Baby corn etc 
  • For the spice paste of laksa soup
  • 6-7 shallots
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • ½ inch fresh ginger root or galangal
  • 5-6 blanched almonds
  • 2 whole dry red pepper
  • ¼ tsp of shrimp paste or
  • ½ tsp of fish sauce
  • 2 tsp of lime juice
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp of cumin powder
  • 1 tsp of red pepper powder
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • ½ tsp of salt or as per taste
  • 3-4 tsp of cooking oil

 Method

  1. Marinate cold water cooked shrimps with turmeric powder and salt. We mostly get  cooked shrimps which are already cleaned here. But if using fresh shrimps then it’s necessary to properly clean and de-vein shrimps, removing shells as well. Keep aside for half an hour.
  2. Now heat up a fry pan and sauté them for 2-3 mints. Take them out and reserve it to be added at the time of assembling the soup.
  3. Now prepare the laksa paste
  4. Since I didn’t have shrimp paste also known as “belacan” at the time of making this soup and also I generally don’t use them either. Instead I like to use fish sauce in any Oriental inspired recipes. But we needed the meatiness of shrimp as well. So, while preparing the masala paste for laksa, I did add sautéed small shrimp which provided that meaty texture of the paste.
  5. In a blender, blend in shallots, garlic, ginger, about 7-8 sautéed cold water shrimps, blanched almonds, whole dried red pepper, lemon juice, fish sauce and oil. Blend all to form a uniform laksa paste.
  6. Now heat up a deep bottom pan, add in water and let it come to boil. Add in egg noodles, little bit of salt and a tsp of cooking oil. Cook the noodles and make sure they don’t get soggy. Even if they are partially cooked; they will be cooked once being added to the simmering soup.I personally like egg noodles but you may even use spaghetti noodles as well.Egg noodles cook quickly as compared to spaghetti pasta noodles.
  7. Drain the water and reserve cooked noodles.
  8. Now add cooking oil in a heated deep bottom pan and add in prepared laksa paste.
  9. Stir/fry the laksa paste well for 6-7 mints.Add in red pepper powder and cumin powder. Adjust it with salt and sugar. Since fish sauce is salty which we already have added ,take precaution while adding salt to soup at this time. It will be appropriate to taste soup at this time and then add in salt if required.Even belacan is also bit salty in case you are using it.
  10. Now add in coconut milk, mix all well. Let it slowly simmer a while.Then add in about 2-3 large cups of warm water or broth if using it.
  11. While the soup is simmering, stir/fry other vegetables like beans, bean sprouts, baby corn or bok Choy just for 3-4 mints to retain the crunchiness. Note- to retain color of green vegetables , put them with cooking noodles in hot water, take them out 2-3 mints later and then proceed to sauté them for a short time about 3-4 mints. This way they will retain the green color and also will turn out crispy. Then add them as garnishing at the time of serving laksa soup.
  12. After about 10-12 mints when the soup has blended well with the fried laksa paste. Add in cooked noodles. Take it off from the flame.And keep it covered.
  13. Now have and serve with other garnishing such as fried shrimp, green beans and a slice of lemon wedge.
  14. You can even add sautéed chicken breast strips or cooked crabs.

Note-

This recipe for laksa soup is adapted to suit our taste buds. Traditionally laksa soup is made with- dried shrimp paste, galangal and lemon grass. I have used fresh ginger root in place of galangal, and fish sauce in place of shrimp paste. Lemon grass was replaced with fresh lime juice. Shrimp paste is available now in many super-markets, if you really want to use it then sure go ahead.You can even try it out with any ready-made Thai red curry masala paste.Watch this youtube video to know more about it.

Happy Cooking Friends

8 comments:

  1. Ha ha and I am opposite to you I read cookbooks in a daily base and look to them always, i have such a huge collecction of them and it get beigger and bigger every month.
    The soup looks so good,

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    1. Ya I know Finla...I really do read them in library and then if I need to read even more ,get them home otherwise most of the time I don't even care to do that..I have till to this day three cookbooks...one a Bengali cookbook with out any eye popping pictures only texts and recipes ..just basic instructions sort of - Got that one from Kolkata "boi mela" I mean book fair .....then one by Nita Mehta ...a pocket cook-book about non-veg by Sanjeev kapoor and last two cook-books I read here in library were -one by Julie Sahni - Indian classical cooking ..other one by Madhur Jaffery ...rest I have read but it's not in my mind right now :-))....I only blame my lack of patience for that matter otherwise there are plenty of worthy and valuable cook -books now available around us...thanks for liking the soup ..hugs

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  2. Delicious and tasty looking soup. Wonderfully prepared. Very inviting with the chopsticks.
    Deepa

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    Replies
    1. Deepa thanks ..those chop-sticks are my daughters fav :-)) ..hugs

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  3. Will definitely keeps me warm, comforting soup.Would love to have a sip of it.Highly inviting laksa.

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    Replies
    1. Priya , you will like it .it is very refreshing and filling as well...hugs

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  4. I've tried some three versions of laksa and despite liking it a lot, never made it again. Now your photos are tempting me!

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    Replies
    1. Laksa has many variations and it's entirely up to a cook -how he or she wants to finsih it off ..sometimes even a slight change in garnishing also adds variations...which versions you tried Sra..hugs

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