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The Nearly Laksa Soup

The Nearly Laksa Soup

This chapter was dreamt up during a recent trip to Byron Bay. Dave and I had both been working extremely hard and felt the need to reward ourselves by booking a couple of nights in a health retreat. Being surrounded by the beautiful rolling green hills of Byron while being fed an array of amazing nutritious food, with the odd spa treatment thrown in, really made for an amazing getaway.

Having just completed our morning yoga session, we decided to take the scenic walk back to lunch, so with camera in hand off we went. Being a designer means I spend a lot of time on the computer, which if fine, I love what I do. But being outdoors in nature makes me feel another level of bliss. Inspiration started flowing on this occasion and as I moved through the amazing greenery I began snapping away. One tree on this particular path caught my eye, so I took a few extra shots before heading back to the retreat. As if the scene wasn't perfect enough, a light drizzle had started up, making for the perfect sun shower as we strode through the lush vegetation on route back to lunch.

Lunch is a vegetarian Laksa Soup. I can’t tell you the amount of times Dave has ordered a Laksa at our local while I sit by jealousy yet slightly put off by the creamy pool of oil that stains the top of his meal. Being at a health retreat I decide to trust the chef, and throwing my caution to the wind I enjoyed my first taste of Laksa soup. It was sweet, hot and delicious and the first mouthful warmed me up instantly. I inhaled my meal and felt amazingly satisfied after.

I decided that my next chapter for the blog would be about Laksa and started researching recipes. I was very quickly put off by the long list of ingredients I kept finding, and even worse was the multitude of different stores I would need to visit to find all the specialised Asian ingredients.

Determined to create my version of the Laksa, I started experimenting and am pleased to present today’s post - “The Nearly Laksa Soup”. The ingredient list is still long but everything included is easy to find (assuming you live near a great health food store like me that is!). I do break a few rules in the recipe below because I wanted to be able to use existing ingredients rather than buying all new things.

Serves 6
Laksa paste:

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp shrimp paste (heaped)
1 lemongrass stalk (trimmed and chopped)
6 fresh red chillies (chopped)
4 cloves of garlic
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp nutmeg

2 tbsp olive oil
1.5L chicken stock
1 cube palm suger (grated)
500g organic coconut milk
500g chicken thigh (boneless, skinless and chopped into cubes)
12 raw tiger prawns (shells removed, intestinal tract removed but tails intact)
1 block firm tofu (cut into cubes)
2 tbsp coconut oil
2C beansprouts
3C cauliflower (chopped)
1C shallots (chopped)
2C green beans chopped
500g thin rice noodles

Make a Laksa paste by adding all the paste ingredients into a food processor, pulse until it forms a smooth paste.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add Laksa paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add chicken stock and palm sugar. Stir to combine, then bring to a simmer. Add chicken and cauliflower and half of the shallots, return to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes. Add prawns and cook for 1 minute or until chicken is cooked through and prawns are almost cooked.
In a separate pan add coconut oil, when the pan is hot add your tofu and brown all sides.
Add coconut milk, and the now golden tofu puffs. Stir gently to combine, then bring almost to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 2 minutes or until prawns are just cooked. Add the green beans and beansprouts.
Meanwhile, place noodles in a large bowl. Pour over enough boiling water to cover, then stand for 2 minutes or until heated through. Drain well.
Divide noodles into bowls, ladle the Laksa soup over noodles making sure an even amount of protein is in each serve. For colour and crunch I add fresh green beans and basil leaves to the top of each bowl.

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