Sunday, March 13, 2011

Food to soothe our souls

"Soup puts the heart at ease, calms down the violence of hunger, eliminates the tension of the day, and awakens and refines the appetite." - Auguste Escoffier

Days of destruction and sorrow have us wanting nourishment, comfort and warmth. This very simple - and original - version of Malaysian laksa served to take our minds off the sadness in Japan, if only for the moments it took to eat it. The heat and aromas of the ginger, curry spices and chili sauce are tempered by the sweet milkiness of coconut.

Quick and easy laksa
This is in no way authentic. Laksa is a Malaysian soup with many variations.

•    1 small onion, finely sliced
•    1x2-in. knob of ginger, sliced thin
•    1 spray curry leaves (optional but delicious)
•    1-2 tbsp. prepared curry paste
•    3 cups chicken broth or equivalent
•    1 can or less coconut milk, stirred
•    1-2 tsp. Chinese chili-garlic sauce
•    1 lb. 16/20 shrimp, peeled and cleaned
•    1 package Sun Noodle oriental noodles
•    Salt to taste
•    Cilantro and chopped green onion
•    Lime or lemon wedges
•    Bean sprouts

Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a soup pot at medium-high temperature. Add onion, ginger and optional curry leaves, and stir for a couple minutes. Add curry paste, stir and cook for several minutes until it starts to stick to the pot. Add broth and chili-garlic sauce, and increase temperature to high. Before it comes to a boil, add the shrimp. Before the shrimp are fully cooked, stir in coconut milk to your taste. Again, bring up to temperature but not boiling. Salt to taste.

You can either break up and add all the noodles to the soup, or microwave each portion of noodles for 30-45 seconds with a tablespoon of water, drain then add to individual serving bowls. Serve with cilantro, green onion, bean sprouts and lime wedges.

Note: prepared Indian curry paste contains ground cumin, coriander, turmeric and other spices. You could fry your own spices in oil instead. The Lee Kum Kee chili-garlic sauce comes in a jar. The noodle varieties are either udon or saimin (ramen-type). I use the ramen-type.


  1. This sounds absolutely wonderful -- perfect for the upcoming spring weather we're finally experiencing in Virginia. :)

  2. I hope you can find all the ingredients, as this recipe is one I make often, and enjoy for its comforting warmth.