You do need a couple of unique ingredients to get that laksa flavor. I could not find all - but still managed to get a good tasting laksa. I realized that I could have added more spice to it - this was not too spicy so add more spice if you want it hot!
To begin with, let's make a laksa paste. This is available ready made in the markets but always carries shrimp paste in it - so, if you want a vegetarian version, make it yourself!
Here are the ingredients required for Laksa paste -
Onions - about 1/2 an onion - or a few shallots.
Ginger - originally galangal is used, but I could not find it and hence used ginger, its cousin! Hoping some common DNA would still be available.
Garlic - 2-3 cloves
Coriander Seeds - 1 full tablespoon - this is what adds a lot of flavor to the dish.
Red Chillies - about 10-12 - yeah..trust me. that was not enough!
Lemongrass - I found a fresh stalk at my grocers - if you do too, peel the outer covers and chop up about a tbsp of lemongrass pieces. This is a very strong flavor - so don't add too much or else this will overpower the dish.
Turmeric - 1 full tsp
Salt - to taste
There's my stalk of lemongrass that I picked up from Albertsons. I checked so many stores and no one had lemongrass! It was hard to find. Albertsons also had a tube with lemongrass paste similar to a concentrate. But, that was 4 bucks and this fresh stalk was like 19 cents! So, you do the math - and always fresh is better. And you just need about a tsp of this - so why buy a big tube and let it spend the winter in your fridge!
Fry all together for a min and then move to a blender to make a fine paste. Add oil to blend well - do not add water.
This paste is not too fine- you can still see a few coriander seeds and chilli flakes - this is pretty good consistency for the paste.
Now, fry the paste in about 2 tbsp of oil. Yeah..2 tbsp - I told you this was a tasty dish - not a healthy one! Cook this until the paste comes together and becomes a little thick. This is laksa paste.
Meanwhile, boil some regular noodles in hot water until done and wash with cold water to stop cooking. Now, you could use rice noodles for the dish. But I could not find any thick rice noodles. So, I just used the regular wheat noodles similar to egg noodles. The packet did say that this was a good noodle for soups!
Chop up your veggies ready. I used mushrooms, snow peas and broccoli. I bought fried tofu from the store and cut that into long pieces. Also, keep some bean sprouts ready - we will add that at the end for the crunch! And chop up some cilantro too finely.
In a wide pan, add a little bit of oil. Throw in the mushrooms, snow peas and tofu in here and fry for a couple of mins.
Add all of the laksa paste now and mix together well.
It smells wonderful ...wish you could all smell it!
Now, add about 2 cans of coconut milk and 1 1/2 cans of water to the veggies. I was being kind and considerate to my body and hence went with light coconut milk from trader joes! You can cheat if you want...I won't tell. Or you could place a table lamp while cooking and pretend that is was Light coconut milk! I won't tell again!
Now, just let this cook for like 10 mins. Until the soup boils well.
When its boiling and you are ready to switch off the stove, add the broccoli in here. Switch off the stove. The existing heat is enough to cook the broccoli. You still want them to be crunchy. That's it - you're done!
To serve, place noodles in a bowl.
Add some soup on top to completely immerse the noodles and a little more.
Top off with crunchy bean sprouts and some cilantro. Enjoy hot! And thank me! LOL!
Enjoy! Peace Out!