Thursday, August 28, 2008

a laksa of sorts

Something very odd has happened in Melbourne this week. We’ve stopped moaning. Instead, little satisfied coos can be heard as some semblance sun returns.

While not bathed in lashings of sunshine, today was the first in months warm enough to eat lunch outside. But what dish to celebrate such a shift in the seasons? Moving away from cool weather stodge I wanted something quick and herby. Though I’m still not sufficiently thawed to embrace salads just yet.

This pumpkin and tofu laksa caught my eye. I had the two key ingredients but would have to improvise with spices.

What emerged twenty minutes later was pumpkin and fried tofu in a fragrant coconut broth. There were rice noodles for comfort and the much desired herbage.

I don’t care what you call it but it made my tastebuds sing.

Improvised pumpkin and tofu laksa*

First make a quick spice paste:
Blend together some garlic, ginger, red chillies, coriander roots, kaffir lime leaves and a dash of vegetable oil. There was no lemongrass in the house alas.

Fry off the spice paste in some vegetable oil. Stir frequently. You’ll know it is time to add the stock because the smell of the gently frying herbs tickles your nose. Add some stock (I used fish because I had some in the freezer but veggie stock would make this suitably vegan). Throw in a handful of pumpkin cut into small wedges.

While the stock comes back to a simmer, cover some rice noodles with boiling water and cut some fried tofu into triangles.

I had time to nip to the garden (it is only a few paces away from the stove) and grab spring onion and fresh mint.

Put a splash of coconut milk and a dash of fish sauce in the soup and have a taste. Of course there are many vegan substitutes such as tamari, soy or sea salt. The pumpkin should be just about cooked.

Now it is time to put it all together. I threw in my wedges of tofu to let them heat through. The soaked rice noodles suitably softened went into the bowl, next the soup and lastly I garnished it with mint, coriander leaves and spring onions.

* more memoir than recipe, go to the BBC site if you want something with nicely set out quantities and method – however just once in your life, wouldn’t it be nice to improvise?

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Blogger Dani said...

yummo! The anti-pumpkin BRead Winner is on distant shores, I have som leftover home made laksa paste and a big wedge of pumpkin. Just need some tofu and I'm there!

5:10 pm  
Blogger ut si said...

Can almost smell it from across the puddle! Gorgeous.

7:15 pm  
Blogger GS said...

Thanks guys. As much as I have a found memory of making an elaborate stock out of prawn shells and a list of spices as long as my arm the first time I made a Laksa about 16 years ago - it was so liberating to make an easy version in the wink of an eye that tasted almost as good :)

9:02 am  

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