Years ago while backpacking half way around the world, I spent some time in Malaysia, and this one town on the east coast had a fantastic night market, where one could fill up on fantastic foods for a couple of bucks. Some of my favorites where the flaky roti canaii, the massive grilled king prawns (more like emperor prawns, if you advance on that size scale, as they were literally fist sized) with sambal and the endless variations of flavorful soups that would be available at all times of day (or night)
For a long time after coming back I would make a chicken and shrimp based soup called Laksa, then I forgot about it, but last week-end in NYC we ate a delicious little gem called Niu noodle house and our dinner reminded me of Laksa, and back came the memories of the fantastic taste, flavorful yet mild.
You can make this totally from scratch by buying a whole chicken, cutting it into pieces and boiling it to make stock, then remove the meat from the bones, shred and reserve and discard the bones. Or you can use chicken broth (homemade and stashed in your freezer) and a chicken breast or rotisserie chicken, all depending on the time you have or your willingness to work. In the spirit of full disclosure, my not completely authentic version features some adaptations, to make the recipe fit our western pantry a bit better. For one, I use macadamia or cashew nuts, the original calls for candle nuts, which are rather difficult to come by in this part of the world. I also like to add a pinch of turmeric to give the whole thing a bit of color.
…and of course you can put lots more broth over the noodles
- 1 chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces or left over rotisserie chicken meat
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 can coconut milk
- (1/2 pound shrimp, or 5-6 per person, peeled and cooked, optional)
- 3 hard boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
- 7 oz or 200 grams dried rice noodles, size medium or smaller, or vermicelli
- 4 small shallots + 1 shallot for garnish*
- 3 garlic cloves
- 4 macadamia or cashew nuts
- 1 stem lemon grass, only thick end, bruised so it’s slightly crushed and split open
- 1/2 tsp coriander seed
- 1 pinch turmeric
- 3 tbsp oil
- salt to taste
* as a shortcut, get ‘fried red onion’ in a jar from your Asian grocer
- Using mortar and pestle, grind the coriander seeds to a powder, then add the nuts and process the same way. Press the garlic and the small shallots through a garlic press, then add to the mortar and pound everything to a paste.
- Thinly slice the remaining shallot and set aside.
- Bring water to a boil, then pour over the rice noodles in a heat proof bowl and let stand until softened but not mushy, (time varies, depending on the size of your noodles)
- Heat a small amount of oil in a soup pan, and fry the seasoning paste from the mortar until it just starts to turn golden and a strong fragrance is released. Add the chicken breast and cook for another minute. Chicken will cook more in the following steps. ( If using cooked chicken, add after adding the broth)
- Deglaze with the chicken broth and the coconut milk, stir to dissolve any lumps of the seasoning paste. Add the lemon grass and bring to a boil and cook until the chicken is cooked through.
- In the meantime, heat a small frying pan, add the remaining oil and fry the sliced shallots until crispy, set aside.
- Add a pinch of turmeric to the broth and season with salt to taste.
- To serve, place the noodles into 4 bowls, top with shrimp and 3 pieces of hard boiled egg each, then ladle the hot soup over top and serve garnished with the fried shallot
© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade