Creamy, spicy, fragrant, loads of colours and flavours, this is my kind of rainbow bowl. Laksa is a stunning combination of very tasty things, the perfect re-vitalising, comfort food we need in the winter time. We’ll cook with seasonal vegetables and giving them a exotic, Malaysian twist, this laksa bowl really lights up any table or meal time.
We’ve enjoyed Laksa, in so many different ways, all across South East Asia; Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, but the very best (and we both agree on this) was in Southern Thailand. Which is strange, because I’ve called this a Malaysian Laksa, but it was just this one little place, on an island, beach side (in fact it was on the beach) restaurant. One of those special meals, where everything is right, sunset, waves, swaying palm trees, a friendly family running the place. The works! A recipe for a memorable meal. This Laksa, I think, resembles the one we had that night. Big and bold, with a generous amount of coconut. Truth is though, in South East Asia, you rarely get anything resembling a bad Laksa.
Laksa is basically a noodle soup with a creamy and spicy coconut sauce. It normally has a sour element, known as ‘Asam’, here we add some fresh lime to give it that tickle and zing. Laksa is a fusion dish, with influences from China (noodle soup) and Malay (coconut cream and spices). Making Laksa vegan means no loss in flavour in the slightest, without the dominating meat or fish, the subtle and sensational flavours can work their magic much easier.
I’ve gone the whole enchilada here, we make our own spice paste. This means lots of gorgeous ingredients, and a little time spent, but its SO worth it. You can also buy vegan yellow Thai curry paste quite easily, for a quicker laksa fix.
I like a laksa with a chilli kick and lots of fragrant aromas, I use quite a bit of lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, fresh kaffir lime leaves (you can find them in the UK), all with the deeper background spices of cumin and coriander. It’s just awesome, you have to try it!
Jane and I are in Spain at the minute soaking up the winter sun and the tasty tapas. Life is so peaceful here, we live close to the beach and can hear the waves at night. We’ve been doing some cooking out here and met some amazing new people, also spent some times re-energising and preparing for winter, lots of walks, swimming and enjoying the stunning scenery. We’ve got loads planned this winter and I’ve been focusing on creating lots of new recipes.
We cooked this Laksa at our recent weekend of vegan cooking workshops in Hackney, see pictures here, and it was a big hit. I’ve never served this to anyone who didn’t think it was yum, it’s rainbow soul food. Could we ask for more?!
Our upcoming Cook Vegan! event in Manchester is almost fully booked, we’re cooking a full festive vegan lunch and then of course we have our blissful Spanish cooking holiday next year. Come and join us on the beach! Maybe we’ll have Laksa in the sun?
We hope you’re all enjoying cooking and feeling inspired to create and eat healthy, delicious and vibrant vegan food. Do let us know below in the comments if you like the look of this recipe, or have any questions, or just want to say ‘Howdy!’ It’s wonderful to hear from you. We love feedback, it helps us create and share the dishes YOU want to cook.
Rice noodles will act as a thickener here for the soup. I love this, but if you’d prefer a thinner broth, blanch the noodles in boiling water and drain before adding to the soup. This will cook the noodles, so add them just before the end of cooking.
This Laksa can be made a main course or starter, depending on the amount of noodles added. See below in the recipe.
An alternative for this curry paste is to use a shop bought yellow thai curry paste, but homemade is soooo much better!
Malaysian Squash Laksa – Rainbow Noodle Bowl (Vegan, Gluten-free)
The Bits – For 4
2 tbs coriander seeds
1/2 tbs cumin seeds
1 medium or 150g onion (sliced)
7 garlic cloves
1 1/2 or 30g inch ginger (sliced)
6 kaffir lime leaves
2 sticks or 20g lemongrass (inner white stem only, sliced)
1 red chilli
3 tbs chopped coriander stems
1 1/2 tbs tamari/ soya sauce
1 tbs oil
1/2 tbs oil
1 1/2 teas ground turmeric
1/2 large squash or 550g (chopped into small cubes, skin on is fine with thin skinned squash like butternut)
1 red pepper (sliced)
1.25 ltr light vegetable stock or hot water (from a recently boiled kettle)
1 can full fat coconut milk
2 handfuls or 75g spinach/ kale
2 handfuls or 100g green beans/ mangetout (chopped at an angle)
125g-175g rice noodles
1/2 tbs brown sugar
1/2 teas salt
Fresh coriander or mint leaves (or both)
A dash of tamari/ soya sauce
A scattering of crunchy peanuts or crispy onions
4 lime wedges
Salt or tamari/ soya sauce (to taste)
For the paste – Toast the coriander and fennel seeds for 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant. Add to a blender or spice grinder and grind to a coarse mixture.
Add the rest of the ingredients to a blender or food processor and blend until a thick paste forms. Add a tbsp or so water if needed. The paste can be refrigerated for up to a week and frozen for longer.
For the soup – Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the spice paste and turmeric, cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly. Check out those aromas!!
Now add the squash and peppers, the vegetable stock, 1/2 teas sea salt and coconut milk, bring to simmer and cook the vegetables for 8-10 minutes until the veg is soft.
Add in the rice noodles and green beans, let the mixture simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring a little to make sure the noodles don’t stick together.
Mix in the spinach/ kale. Taste and adjust salt, sugar and chilli, as you like it. I usually add a bit of salt or soy sauce, lime juice and some sugar at this point.
Serve straightaway, garnish with fresh coriander leaves, bean sprouts, chopped chillies, toasted peanuts. Finally, squeeze over you lime wedge and then throw it into the soup. Adds to the flavour!
Lemongrass not only adds wonderful fragrance to this Laksa, it is also high in iron, potassium and magnesium.