When you’re starving and you’ve come home on a dark and cold winters night and you need to eat immediately, this is the quickest meal to prepare. Thai laksa can be cooked all in one pot in 15–20 minutes, quicker if I’m really hungry!
I do cheat here a little, but we all need some shortcuts from time to time. I buy a vegan Thai paste, no shrimp paste or fish stock, and have five different types in my fridge to keep life interesting. I add all my fresh veggies and coconut milk along with some fresh classic Thai ingredients.
Sometimes, I add fresh ginger or turmeric, fresh coriander, Thai basil or kaffir lime leaves. You can add more fresh chilli although most of the pastes have a kick in them already. Try finely sliced spring onions, tamarind paste, a splash of toasted sesame oil, and fresh lime juice at the end of cooking. This all helps to create that fresh Thai flavour and helps me to feel not so much like a cheat.
Makes 2 serves
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
Tofu, 200gm diced
Tamari, for tofu and seasoning
2-3 tbs of white sesame seeds
1-2 tsp Thai paste (Cock Brand is the one I use)
5 kaffir lime leaves
2 tsp good salt
¼ small pumpkin, diced into medium chunks
1 small carrot, cut into batons
Small handful of beans, topped, and cut in half
Small handful of snow peas, topped
125g mung bean noodles (aka glass or bean thread noodles)
1 bunch of tatsoi or any Asian greens, washed, roughly chopped
1x 400ml tin coconut cream
1-2 limes, juiced (depends how sour and tangy you like it)
1 bunch coriander, chopped finely, plus extra to garnish
Lightly fry tofu pieces in the oils until golden, then coat with tamari and sesame seeds and sauté until crispy. Turn off the heat. Set aside. Next bring an inch of water to the boil in a medium saucepan with the kaffir limes leaves and a dessert spoon of any Thai paste you like.
Tip: You can always add more, but you can’t take it away. While the water comes to the boil, cut up any vegetables you like. I use any combination of the following: green beans, snow peas, Asian greens like bok choi, pak choi or tatsoi, carrots, pumpkin, zucchini or broccoli, eggplant, corn, even cauliflower goes in Thai laksa. The trick is to keep that crunchy vegetable texture like good Thai food. So cook the vegetables in order of hardness. I give each vegetable a minute or two depending on how cooked I want it.
Once all the vegetables are in (except the Asian greens and coriander), add the noodles to soak up the last of the spicy water and cook for 1–2 minutes with the lid on. Add the Asian greens and coriander and allow them to gently wilt. Once the noodles have softened and become translucent, add the coconut cream and stir it in. When warm add your seasonings, salt, tamari and finally, lime juice.
Enjoy the sour taste of the limes, the salty taste of the tamari and the spicy flavours of the Thai paste, all in equal measure of prominence. Serve in a deep bowl, sprinkle with the crisp tofu, and garnish with some extra chopped coriander.