Ordinarily I would never encourage people to spend a Saturday night alone, but last night was my first free Saturday of the year and with my other half getting to grips with snowboarding in the Alps, I thought I’d delve into a bit of Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey.
It was a case of ”drop the book and see what page it lands on” – and he must have read my mind when the Penang Road Laksa page turned. I’ve enjoyed Singapore noodles before, which I think is of a similar elk, but I’ve always been intrigued by Laksa. It’s been a relatively new foodie favourite batted around in the mainstream for just a few years and I saw Rick Stein make a simple but tasty version of it on Masterchef Australia.
When I checked out the pastes in the back of the book, I really liked the sound of the Singapore Laska spice paste. With a handful of cashew nuts, dried shrimps and coriander seeds all included on the list, I knew it would be rich and bursting with flavour.
It didn’t disappoint and I ended up with a seriously fragrant, seriously spicy, delicious golden Laksa gravy covering soft egg noodles. Sustainably topped off with a flaked coley fillet, wild garlic leaves (hand picked by my step dad) and fresh chopped chilli, it almost felt like a shame not to be sharing it out – almost!
For the Singapore Laksa spice paste, you will need:
25g dried shrimps
10 dried chillies – seeds shaken out
1 tsp shrimp paste
2 lemon grass stalks – chopped
25g cashew nuts
4 cloves garlic – roughly chopped
40g ginger (or galangal) – roughly chopped
2 tsp turmeric
125g shallots – roughly chopped
1 tbsp freshly ground coriander seeds
3 tbsp vegetable or rapeseed oil
Soak the chillies and shimp in boiling water for 20 minutes. Drain and add with all the other ingredients in to a blender. Blend to a smooth paste.
From here you can create a curry or a soup style dish. Either fry off the paste before adding coconut milk, a little fish stock and prawns, or add your paste to a litre of water and boil for 30 minutes before passing through a sieve, pushing through as much of the flavour and liquid as possible and adding to 150ml of tamarind water. Either can be poured over soft boiled noodles and topped with your favourite fresh Oriental flavour combo.
I went for flaked fish, wild garlic leaves, cress and fresh red chilli but beansprouts, spring onion, coriander, mint and lemon grass also make great toppings.
Serve with chopsticks but make sure you”ve got some spoons handy to scoop up all the golden spicy sauce!