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Sarah's Laksa - Big, Fragrant Malaysian Coconut Soup with Vegetables and Tofu
An aromatic, fragrant and all-round gorgeous big soup or main meal. My lovely niece made this for us one snowy weekend in Wales – and kindly passed on her recipe. Thank you, Sarah Key Rice!
Although it looks like quite a long list of ingredients, it’s not difficult and the principle is like stir-fry prep. So just get everything out that you need, chop the vegetables and go for it. It’s surprisingly fast – even quicker if you cheat and use a ready-chopped stir-fry mix with some added green beans and peas.
We tend to double up the recipe in our house - it's one of our favourites and we often eat it two nights in a row!
Vegan Thai red curry pastes: Asda; Biona; Geo; M&S; Thai Taste are all suitable - other brands may contain fish sauce, shrimp sauce or other non-vegan ingredients, so read the labels carefully. You can also make your own from this recipe
Thanks to Peace Harmony Thai vegetarian restaurant in Sydney for the picture - it's the closest we could find, given that we scoffed the soup (twice) before remembering we hadn't taken a picture!
Stock and marinade
- 1L vegan stock, made from bouillon or stock cubes (eg Marigold red tub or Kallo vegetable cubes)
- 3 limes – squeeze the juice from 2 and set aside; use the other as garnish, chopped into 4 pieces
- 3 big cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 big ‘thumb’ ginger, grated
- Chilli: choose from 1 dried OR 1-2 tsp lazy chilli paste OR 1 fresh, de-seeded and chopped
- 3 tbsp plain vegetable oil, rapeseed or similar
- 1 leek OR 2 big shallots OR 1 small red onion – finely chopped
- Soya sauce – preferably shoyu or (GF) tamari type
- 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
Veg and rest of soup ingredients
- Enough vegetables for 4, chopped roughly same size - these make a good foundation but we'd suggest the beans, beansprouts and peppers are most important
- Aubergine, small cubes
- Carrots, big matchsticks
- Red pepper (orange or yellow fine too), strips or chunks
- Green beans
- Other vegetables that work, eg broccoli; mange tout; pak choi; chard peas; mushrooms; baby corn; diced sweet potato/butternut squash. If using pak choi or chard chop the white stem and use in stage 7 (hard veg). Use the finely shredded greens in stage 9 (soft veg).
- 1-3 tbsp vegan red Thai curry paste (see list above) - start with 1tbsp, taste then add more gradually if you prefer more heat
- 1 tin coconut milk - light or full fat
- 1 tbsp lemon grass paste
- 2-3 large kaffir lime leaves
- ½ tsp turmeric
- Brown sugar to taste – about 1 tsp
- Tofu chunks: 1 packet of Cauldron marinated pieces OR 250g plain tofu, chopped into chunks and fried (GF) OR a pack of ready-made deep fried plain tofu pieces from Oriental grocers
- 1 pack of udon noodles, eg Clearspring brand - or rice noodles for a GF option (the wide flat type)
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
- fresh coriander, finely chopped
1. Make the stock and set aside. Fill the kettle again and put it on to boil.
2. Mix the garlic, ginger and chilli plus a splash of the lime juice together in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Wash and prepare all the vegetables – the carrots and peppers need to be in thin slices. Divide the veg into hard and soft types, eg carrots, peppers and beans hard, mushrooms and beansprouts soft.
4. In a large heavy-bottomed pan or wok, heat 1 tbsp of the oil then gently fry the leeks or shallots or onions until softened. Add a splash of the stock if it starts to stick. Add the bowl of garlic, ginger mixture and stir well.
5. Remove from hob and add a splash of soya, the sweet chilli sauce and another splash of lime juice. Spoon this mixture into a bowl and set aside.
6. Cook the udon noodles. Pour the kettle of hot water and a little salt into a saucepan, bring to the boil, add the noodles and cook them according to the packet instructions – usually 6-7 minutes. If they are ready before the soup is, drain and rinse in cold water to prevent them sticking together.
7. Heat up the rest of the oil in the pan and stir-fry the hard veg for a few minutes but don't overcook. Add a little stock if it starts to stick. When the veg are almost cooked, add another splash of soya sauce and lime juice. Then pour in the onion and garlic mixture. Stir in and let it cook in and infuse for a minute or two.
8. Mix 1 tbsp red Thai curry paste with the coconut milk. Add this plus the lime leaves to the soup. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Taste and add more curry paste if a hotter soup is desired.
9. Add the lemon grass paste, turmeric and sugar plus the soft veg (eg mushrooms, beansprouts, peas) and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Just before the soup is ready, add the rest of the lime juice and the tofu chunks. Taste and season if necessary.
10. Serve the cooked noodles in the middle of bowls. Ladle the soup round it. Top with toasted sesame seeds and chopped coriander.