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
Soft serve state……or popsicle, fantastic either way!
You may have notice that I am
obsessed enamored with mangoes. For more on this delicious fruit, see the Mango Cheesecake and the Mango with Sticky Rice posts and a fun side salsa, geeez, I guess I am kinda crazy about them. Since it is really hard to describe a flavor so exotic and sweet that it transports you to faraway places where the sun rises red through the early morning haze and you hear a peacock’s cry in the distance. The view takes your breath away as daylight slowly uncovers the scenery, like unrolling an exquisite silk tapestry…
Well, beyond dreaming, this is not going to get much words from me, except it’ only 2 ingredients and a must-try! No added sugar since mangoes are sweet as a dream, and if you use coconut milk, the whole thing is vegan.
Remember to start this the day before you want to eat the super natural mango ice
- 2 champagne mangoes, peeled, cut into 1/2″ chunks
- about 3/4 cups coconut milk (or half & half*)
*If using half & half, the mango ice is no longer vegan
- Chop and freeze the mango pieces until rock hard. (best overnight, but minimum of 6 hours seems to work)
- Blend the chopped, frozen mango pieces, until they look crumbly, like such…
- With the machine running, slowly pour in coconut milk (or half and half, if going the dairy route) until the mango crumbles start to blend into a homogenous mass.
- Either serve right away (texture is soft serve) or scoop into a small dish or popsicle molds and freeze until solid. Will keep for several weeks, if you can keep your fingers off of it 🙂
© 2012 SimpleHealthyHomemade
Sticky rice, also called glutinous rice (even though there is absolutely no gluten in rice) is eaten sweet as a snack or desert a lot of places in Thailand, in the northeast of the country it is also served along your meal, unsweetened of course. That rice finds its way into meals from breakfast to desert isn’t surprising for a country where rice is a main staple in the diet, after all the verb ‘to eat’ in Thai is tantamount to ‘to eat rice’
For me, nothing says Thailand more than getting a serving of sticky rice with mango from a small place off a street corner somewhere. Vendor’s specialize in this dish and often you will find a line of people when mangoes are in season. That’s what I look for 😉 where the locals eat, it’s always the best. It’s served with sweetened coconut milk and is just delicious! Back home I would order it at Thai restaurants any chance I’d get, but alas it was often unavailable due to seasonal availability and because, unfortunately the restaurant often thought that ‘common’ food was not what should be served to guests in their establishment. 🙁 Imagine my joy when a few years back, I finally figured out that this exotic desert was actually pretty simple and easy enough to make at home. Cheaper and available whenever the lovely grocery store carries yummy mangoes. Win & win! Now I just have to figure out how to make the taro desert I can only get in Thailand…
You need to start this several hours before you want to indulge, since the rice is first soaked, then steamed.
- 1 cup sticky rice*
- 2-3 ripe mangoes, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 can coconut milk (not the light kind)
- 2-3 tbsp palm sugar
- Soak the rice in cool water overnight or at a minimum 4 hours
- Line a bamboo steamer with cheesecloth and over the sink pour the rice into it to drain. Fold the cheesecloth over the edges so it doesn’t hang down and catch fire (tried that, and no, it doesn’t improve the flavor). Cover with the steamer lid.
- Set your bamboo steamer over a pot or wok of boiling water, and steam until the rice is cooked and yields softly to the bite. It will have a tacky consistency, will be slightly shiny and the rice grains will stick together. Takes about 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, gently heat 3/4 of the can of coconut milk in a sauce pan, add the coconut sugar and stir to dissolve.
- When the rice is done, transfer to a bowl and add the rest of the can of coconut milk, stir to mix. Let stand a couple of minutes until evenly moistened, then serve with mango and sweetened coconut milk.
If I get a good deal on mangoes, like I did this week, (hence the mango cheesecake, and this) I will make a good batch of this and keep the rest in the fridge, to reheat as needed for a quick exotic snack or desert anytime 🙂
*You can get this type of rice at most Asian stores, look for glutinous rice, sticky rice or sweet rice. Regular rice won’t work. It comes in white as well as purple!
If you find you end up making this a lot, you can get yourself an authentic sticky rice steaming contraption at Importfood.com as seen in the picture to the right here. I so far have used my regular (Chinese) bamboo steamer with results that make me happy 🙂
Nomnomnom nom nom…
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