Adam’s mum was recently out visiting from Australia and one of the heap of fabulous gifts she brought with was a vegetarian Laksa paste. When she was out here last she had wanted to make us a Laksa, which they often eat in Australia, but couldn’t find a shrimp paste free one (if you didn’t already know, Adam is vegetarian). Laksa is, at the risk of over simplifying, an Asian spicy coconut soup which usually has rice noodle, seafood and veggies in it. I believe that there is a coconut milk free version called Asam Laksa which I am keen to try next.
The Laksa we had for dinner last night was a vegetarian Laksa with shitake mushrooms and tofu as the protein element and was delicious! I read quite a few recipes and then just winged it. The result was a creamy, spicy, goodie filled soup which was a full meal on its own. I was very happy with my addition of the shitake mushrooms, which I had bought dried and rehydrated. They added a fabulous savoury taste and their texture was great.
What I found so special about this paste was that it was a one stop paste. I didn’t need to add any other flavourants. It was simply the paste, coconut milk and water to create the perfect flavoured soup base – adding whatever ‘goodies’ I wanted to after that. That said, this paste was bought in Australia and I have not tried a local brand yet. I would be grateful to anyone who can tell me what their favourite local brand is?
15g of dried shitake mushrooms
250ml of hot water
1 Tbsp oil
3 Tbsp vegetarian Laksa paste (I used 4 Tbsp and it was a little too hot)
400ml of coconut milk
500ml of water
2 Tbsp of fresh lemon or lime juice (optional)
1 – 2 cups of veggies of your choice cut into thin strips – I used carrot, red peppers and bean sprouts
75g of dry vermicelli rice noodles
Tofu cut into dice sized squares
Soak the mushrooms in the 250ml of hot water, for half an hour. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pot and gently fry the paste for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk, water and lemon juice and bring to a light simmer. Add the mushrooms and the water they were soaking in, the veggies, the vermicelli noodles and allow that to cook for a few minutes. Once the noodles are just starting to go soft add the tofu and allow the soup to cook for a few more minutes on a very low simmer. Add the thinly sliced spring onions just before serving or as garnish.