Coconut-free laksa

penang-laksa

I love this laksa because it is coconut free and therefore rare! This is a favourite Sunday night supper, watching an episode from one of our boxed sets, while we slurp our soup and try and eat our noodles with chop sticks. Messy! The whole, flaked fish fillet makes a welcome change from chicken or prawns (and I’m not that keen on prawns since I learned about the Thai prawn-fishing slavery scandal. Also farmed prawns are so tasteless these days). In Singapore you can buy laksa noodles and laksa leaves, but substitute any rice noodle – flat or vermicelli – and fresh mint for the laksa leaves

Coconut-free laksa

1 fillet of fish – sea bass, snapper, cod, haddock
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed
1 tbsp or mix of laksa spice paste (you can either buy this or make it – see below)
1 tbsp tamarind water or paste
1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp palm sugar
150 g fresh round rice noodles (laksa noodles) or 75 g dried flat or vermicelli rice noodles
pinch of salt

Topping

1/4 cucumber, chopped
couple slices chopped pineapple
small gem lettuce, shredded
50 g shallots, finely sliced
1 birds eye chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
Handful laksa or mint leaves

Laksa paste

1 stalk lemongrass, chopped
25 g shallots, chopped
15 g garlic, chopped
15 g galangal or giner, peeled and chopped
5 g fresh turmeric root, peeled and chopped
1 tsp shrimp paste
1 dsp dried shrimp, fried in oil to release flavour

Grind all ingredients in a pestle and mortar, or whizz up in a food processor.

Bring 3/4 litre of water to the boil in a large saucepan. Add the fish fillet, the bruised lemon grass and a pinch of salt. Simmer the fish for about 10 minutes or until cooked. Remove and leave to cool. Then add the spice paste, the tamarind water, fish sauce and palm sugar to the pan. Simmer of 30 minutes, then remove form heat and strain into a clean saucepan. Bring back to the boil and simmer, keeping hot.

Prepare all the toppings, flake the fish, and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the dried noodles according to instructions, or if using fresh noodles, pop them into boiling water until they are heated through, drain.

Then divide the noodles between two bowls, pour over the broth, add the flaked fish and the toppings. You are ready to go!

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