Laksa is presented many different ways across Indonesia and Malaysia. My version is coconut based and I’ve used tempeh as the protein. This fermented and pressed soybean cake has a mild, nutty flavour that I love in the rich broth.
1 x 250-gram packet tempeh (I used the organic Tonzu brand)
coconut oil for shallow frying and sautéing
1 large red chilli, seeds removed and sliced thinly
1 red capsicum, seed removed and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced very thinly with a julienne peeler
¼ cup laksa spice paste
1¼ teaspoon curry powder
1½cups fish stock (you could also use chicken or vegetable stock)
1 x 400-gram can coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 x 340-gram packets kelp noodles
1¼ telegraph cucumbers, finely sliced with a julienne peeler
handful mint, roughly chopped
handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely sliced (optional)
fried shallots (or toasted seeds as an alternative)
1 spring onion, finely sliced
Cut tempeh into 1cm slices. Heat 1⁄4 cup of coconut oil in a sauté pan over a medium-high heat.
Cook the tempeh in 2–3 batches until golden brown on both sides. Lay on a plate lined with paper towels until needed.
Heat a spoonful of oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat. Add the red chilli, capsicum, carrot, spice paste and curry powder. Cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add the stock, coconut milk and fish sauce. Bring to the boil andthen simmer for 3–5 minutes.
Rinse kelp noodles and use kitchen scissors to cut them in half. Divide among 4 bowls. Ladle the broth and vegetables over the top. Lay the tempeh in each bowl.
Top with bean sprouts and then sliced cucumber. Finally scattermint, coriander, sliced chilli, fried shallots and spring onion. Serve with lime wedges.
Pantry notes: You will find tempeh in the chiller section of your supermarket. It will be with the tofu and other vegetarian products.
Fried shallots are available in gourmet food stores and Asian specialty stores. You could use toasted seeds instead.
Kelp noodles are wonderful but can be pricey and sometimes tricky to find. Vermicelli rice noodles are a perfect substitute. Allow 50 grams dried noodles per person. Cook according to packet instructions before adding to the broth.