Laksa with fried chicken and tofu puffs

Laksa is traditionally made using candlenuts in the paste, but there are macadamias lining the streets up here so I’ve oft subbed them in very successfully.

Also, in another development in the world of substitutions, the paste section of the recipe could be subbed out for a store bought paste if you are time-poor. Please note though; the store bought paste will not come off the bench to a standing applause like the macadamias would. Don’t get me wrong, Mr store paste will still get a couple of cheers from a few drunkards down the front, it’s just not going to be the full John Farnham coming onto stage at his third “final goodbyes” tour standing ovation.

Anything you can’t find at a supermarket is no doubt at your local asian grocery store. While you’re there you should grab yourself something else you have never seen before and work out how to use it.

One thing I love about Asian cooking is the big ol’ pile of colour that you start with
Look at those tofu puffs just waiting to soak up so much flavour
Just bloody delicious

LAKSA WITH FRIED CHICKEN & TOFU PUFFS

(serves 4 – 6)

PASTE

1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, peeled
8 dried long red chilli, rehydrated in enough hot water to cover
1 thumb sized knob tumeric, roughly chopped
1 thumb sized knob galangal, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
5 coriander root, roughly chopped
4 stalks lemon grass, white part only, roughly chopped
¼ cup candle nuts or macadamias, lightly toasted
¼ cup oil to blitz

TO COOK

Paste above
8 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon dried shrimp
3x 400 ml tins coconut milk
750 ml chook stock
1 tablespoon castor sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce, plus extra if necessary
2 tablespoon lime juice

TO SERVE

500 g fresh rice noodles or dried rice noodle equivalent, cooked as per instructions of chef packet
300 g chicken thigh fillet, poached or fried, kept warm in low oven
100 g fried tofu puffs, cut in half
200 g bean shoots
Extra lime and chilli
Coriander, sliced fresh shallots and crisp eshallots
A chilli condiment of your choosing

Blitz all paste ingredients in a food processor or pound with mortar and pestle until coarse pasty consistency.
The paste goes into a pot over medium heat. Cook out for 5 minutes or until it’s starting to smell delicious.
Add all “to cook” ingredients except lime juice and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
Add lime juice and curry puffs and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Fish sauce for more salt, sugar for more sweet.
Chop chicken into bite sized pieces.
Now it’s time to assemble.
Noodles go into a bowl, soup and tofu get ladled over them, add the chopped chicken and then garnish with bean shoots, coriander, sliced shallots, crisp shallots, fresh chilli and chilli condiment, with extra lime on the side.
You know you will be patting yourself on the back for this one.

And here is an almost-instructional video to help you too

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