Thursday, February 27, 2014

Laksa with Tofu Puffs

Seems an age since I had any tofu. Set my heart on laksa, thinking I would marinate and fry some cubes of silken tofu for a topping then, once I got to Wing Yip I couldn't resist a bag of tofu puffs - those big yellowy chunks of deep fried tofu that look solid and ugly and in fact are textured like donuts but vastly lighter and utterly brilliant at absorbing liquid. Perfect! I fudged the spice paste with stuff I already had and ended up with a seriously good meal. The only trick is to fry the spice paste till it darkens and smells divine - it takes about 20 minutes, stirring often, till all the liquid evaporates and you are left with a rich fragrant base.

Laksa with Tofu Puffs

I have used herbs to garnish but you can add slivers of cucumber, fresh bean sprouts, halved boiled eggs and deep fried shallots - any of them will add something good to the finished bowl
Serves 3

For the spice paste
4 large dried chillies, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 knob of ginger - thumb sized, of course - peeled and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons raw cashew nuts
1/2 teaspoon belachan - dried shrimp paste if you can get some

For the laksa
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
400ml can coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
100g rice vermicelli thread noodles - thin like angel hair
10 deep fried tofu puffs, cut in half
100g green beans, topped and tailed and cut into short lengths
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons chopped thai basil
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

Roughly chop the soaked chillies and put them into a blender with the rest of the spice paste ingredients. Add some of the soaking water and blend to a thick paste.

Heat the oil in a large pan and add the spice paste. Cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, till most of the liquid evaporates and you have a rich dark fragrant paste. Add the ground turmeric and coriander and stir for another minute. Add the chicken stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and gently simmer the broth for 20-30 minutes. Add the fish sauce and check the seasoning - add a little salt if necessary.

Stir in the vermicelli and simmer for a few minutes then add the halved tofu and stir, then the green beans. Cook for a couple more minutes till the beans are just tender then stir in the lime juice to sharpen the flavours. Serve in large bowls garnished with the chopped herbs.

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