Prawn laksa


Prawn laksa hits all the right flavour notes- spicy, savoury and a hint of sweetness; surely it has to be one of the best Asian comfort foods around? Laksa is usually found in Malaysia and can include many main ingredients such as chicken or tofu- prawn is just the start or you can always mix and match! Don’t be put off by the shrimp paste or fish sauce- they are there to season and add depth so do try them. The spice paste can be made well in advance and then kept in the fridge. You may also like to make more paste than you need for one meal and then save it for another day to save some time.

This laksa includes beansprouts which are readily available in supermarkets. You may also like to include shredded vegetables such as mange tout, sugar snap peas or Asian greens- it really depends how hungry you are!

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Ingredients- serves 2
For the laksa paste
2 dried kashmiri chillies- soaked then chopped
1 stem of lemongrass- chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
1 tsp shrimp paste
2 shallots- chopped
Pinch of turmeric
Salt
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil

For the rest
200g raw prawns
400ml coconut milk
200ml chicken stock made up with water
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp palm sugar
150g rice noodles
50g beansprouts
2 spring onions- shredded

1. Start off by soaking the kashmiri chillies whilst you prepare the remaining ingredients for the paste. Blitz into a paste or bash using a mortar and pestle if you prefer a more rustic look.

2. Take a large pan and heat the glug of vegetable oil over a medium heat. Cook off the paste for a couple of minutes until it releases its fragrance. Add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce and palm sugar and simmer. How long I simmer this for depends on how much time I have but aim for around 10-15 minutes so the flavours from the paste has time to develop and infuse.

3. Meanwhile soak the rice noodles in boiling water, drain well and set aside. Pop the prawns into the broth to cook through whilst you divide the noodles between two deep bowls. Alternatively, and I know this is not the true way of doing it, but I also like to add the rice noodles to the broth and finish off in that so it soaks up the fragrant sauce. When the prawns are cooked, ladle the broth over the noodles before going in with the beansprouts and spring onion. I also like to fry rings of shallot to give a crispy topping.

Prawn laksa- spicy, warming, comforting and impossible to resist!

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Prawn and squash red Thai curry

When life gives you plenty of frozen king prawns and leftover butternut squash then the answer is to use them to create a beautifully fragrant Thai curry. Now for a word about the curry paste: yes, the ingredients list does look lengthy but it really is worth the effort! The paste can be made in large quantities ahead of time and then kept in the fridge. You will need the equivalent of around 2 tbsp worth of paste if you are cooking this for 2 people and simply double the amount for 4.

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g raw peeled king prawns- deveined
Half a small butternut squash- cut into bite sized chunks
300ml coconut milk
100ml chicken stock

For the red curry paste
6 whole dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tbsp galangal- chopped finely
1 tbsp lemonsgrass- chopped finely
1 tsp peppercorns
5 garlic cloves- finely grated
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- finely grated
2 shallots- finely chopped
1 lime- zest finely grated
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt

1. Start off by making the curry paste by toasting the coriander and cumin seeds in a small pan over a medium heat. As the spices start to release their fragrance, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly before grinding in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine to form a thick paste.

2. Heat a small amount of vegetable or groundnut oil in a wok or wide frying pan and fry off the curry paste for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk and stock and stir well to combine. Increase the heat and bring to the boil before lowering to a simmer. I covered the pan and simmered it for around half an hour so it begins to reduce down and gives the flavours time to the flavours develop.

3. The chunks of butternut squash will take around 10 minutes for bite sized pieces so pop them in when you’re ready and simmer until almost tender. Check the chunks by piercing them with a knife; if it sinks in easily then it is ready! Towards the end of cooking, add in the prawns and simmer until they are cooked through. Serve the curry immediately with some extra chopped red chilli or a little freshly chopped coriander if you like and dig in. This is also delicious with sticky Thai rice which is easily accessible in supermarkets now.

King prawn and squash red curry- delicate, fragrant and oh so delicious so get cooking!

 

Beef Khao Soi topped with crispy noodles

Beef khao soi brings a taste of Thailand to the comfort of your own home. It is a delicately spiced and fragrant curry noodle soup that is perfect for a chilly evening. I have added some mixed vegetables to this recipe to make it even heartier. It can be served with a range of meats and prawns but I have kept this recipe as simple as possible by using minute steak. This cut of beef is perfect as it cooks quickly whilst retaining its tenderness so give it a try!

I have included my recipe for red curry paste which forms the base of the recipe but if you’re short on time you can use a ready made paste. The paste also keeps well in the fridge as long as it’s kept in a well sealed pot so you can make a bigger batch at a time.

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Ingredients- serves 2-3
Red curry paste

6 whole dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 1/2 tbsp galangal- chopped finely
1 tbsp lemonsgrass- chopped finely
1 tsp peppercorns
5 garlic cloves- finely grated
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- finely grated
2 shallots- finely chopped
1 lime- zest finely grated
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp salt

For the rest of the khao soi
400ml coconut milk
500ml hot vegetable stock
2 minute steaks- cut into thin strips
3 spring onions- shredded
2 generous handfuls of mixed vegetables- such as a stir fry variety pack
3 nests of medium egg noodles- reserve one for the topping

1. Start off by making the curry paste by toasting the coriander and cumin seeds in a small pan over a medium heat. As the spices start to release their fragrance, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly before grinding in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine to form a thick paste and you are good to go!

2. Heat a small amount of vegetable or groundnut oil in a wok and fry off the curry paste for a few minutes until it starts to release its flavours. Add the coconut milk and stock and stir well to combine. Increase the heat and bring to the boil before lowering to a simmer. I simmered it for around half an hour so it begins to reduce down and the flavours develop.

3. As the coconut milk is simmering, cook the noodle nests according to pack instructions. Set 2 nests worth of noodles aside for later and use one to make the crispy noodle topping. To do this, heat a good amount of oil in a deep pan over a medium/ high heat (remember to keep a careful eye on this!). Take some of the noodles at a time, trying not to overcrowd the pan, and fry until they crisp up and go a little golden. I used a slotted spoon to turn them over during cooking to get an even colour. Remove from the pan and blot onto kitchen towel.

4. When you are nearly ready to serve, add the mixed vegetables and spring onions into the wok to simmer for a couple of minutes before removing the wok from the heat and adding in the beef strips. I found that the delicate strips of beef cooked well in the residual heat but you could keep it on the hob on a very low heat if you prefer.

5. Divide the two noodle nests between two deep bowls. I used a slotted spoon to add on the beef and vegetable mix before using a ladle to spoon over the broth. Top with the crispy noodles and watch your fellow diners’ faces as you present this beautiful curry soup to them!

Beef khao soi with cispy noodles- fragrant, delicate and oh so moreish!

Aromatic Thai roasted duck legs with jasmine rice

Bring a new lease of life to duck legs! If you’re fed up with basic roasted duck then have a go at this! All the traditional Thai flavours are in this recipe which go well with the richness of the duck and freshens it up.

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Ingredients- serves 2
2 duck legs
3 spring onions- shredded
100- 150g jasmine rice

For the marinade:
1 stick of lemongrass- finely chopped
1 lime- zested and juiced
1/2 tbsp groundnut or vegetable oil
Handful of coriander- chopped
2 shallots- finely chopped
Small piece of fresh ginger- grated or finely chopped
1 tsp soft brown sugar
1/2 tsp Thai fish sauce
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1 /2 tsp each of ground coriander, turmeric and cumin
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Small red chilli- deseeded and finely chopped

1. This recipe can be done on the day you want it but prepare the duck the day before if you have the time but it’s delicious either way. Place the duck legs in a bowl and add all of the marinade ingredients in with it. Combine the ingredients well and off you go! Season well and cover before leaving in the fridge overnight or for as long as you can. I have used fresh lime in the marinade to add an acidity however kaffir lime leaves would also work to infuse.

2. When ready to eat, preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan and place the duck legs on a baking tray or rack. Cook for around 40 minutes until the duck is cooked through and the juices run clear. Check it halfway and cover loosely with foil if it is getting a bit too golden too quickly.

3. Just before the duck is ready, cook the jasmine rice as per instructions. I like to add in 2 shredded spring onions to add extra flavour. Serve with the duck and scatter over the remaining onion and coriander. You may like to serve some other vegetables on the side such as sugar snap peas or Asian greens- or both! I like to either steam or griddle the greens with a splash of sesame oil to finish; a great accompaniment for a range of dishes!

Aromatic Thai duck legs- a sure fire hit!