Every now and then it's good to buy a few ingredients that you are unfamiliar with. With a little Google and a little courage you can become proficient with a new ingredient and THAT my friends is powerful.
Then of course, you move out of state and loose all those mystery bottles in your fridge and have to start over, but that's for another day.
Multiple ingredients can scare me away from a recipe, but with clear and concise directions, it doesn't have to be that intimidating. It can be quite simple, actually.
The key on this soup is the puree of ingredients. Once you have that, it's really no work at all. It's a Singapore inspired dish. While the original recipe was featured in Food and Wine magazine, I found it on bunkycooks.com where the author does a fabulous job describing the "Unami bomb" of flavor found in so many Asian inspired dishes. Unami is the perfect balance of savory, hot, sour, salty and sweet. It's what makes a particular dish SO perfectly addicting.
And if you're still not convinced, I made this soup in the same hour span that Chris and I decided to make our move to California official. Talk about emotional. We were laughing and crying. Then my girlfriend walked in for dinner and there was more crying. And heck... I was STILL able to photo shoot and produce this incredible soup.
OK, onto the Laksa (a.k.a. a coconut curry noodle dish). And why not add shrimp... they are so plump and luscious.
Coconut Laksa with Shrimp
5 cups shrimp stock
3 large shallots quartered
4 jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup thinly sliced ginger
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 (14-15 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
2 plump lemongrass stalks, bottom 8 inches only, course outer layer removed, chopped into 2 inch chunks
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 pound Thai flat rice noodles (typically used for pad thai)
salt as needed
1 1/2 pounds shrimp, shells removed and deveined
I made my own shrimp stock the night before... VERY simple. Ingredients were not included above:
1 bay leaf
pepper corns about 10
shrimp shells from your 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp
I always buy shrimp with the shells on now. A) if you are roasting or grilling, they just add so much more flavor (like a bone-in steak) and B) to make your own stock!
Just look at that beaut! Love the vibrant orange color!
Chop your shallots, just in half. Your food processor will do the work.
And the jalapenos. I wear gloves now... ever since the Serrano incident with the Murphys Bread. Oh... I didn't tell you the story?
Well let's just say I thought gloves were for sissies. And there I was ready to go to the ER, laying on the couch with hands tingling, eyes red and crying, wondering what the bleep happened to my life?! Eventually it calmed down, and my foodie friends corrected me and said they weren't sissies. They were smart. Wear gloves when handling peppers. The oils can be dangerous.
Add ginger, coriander, turmeric, 2 tbls of the fish sauce and 2 tbls of the canola oil.
Food processor time. I did mine in two batches since I doubled the recipe.
Place aside in a bowl.
I don't care what it looks like. It SMELLS delightful. WOW.
Now the curious lemongrass. What is the deal, kinda cool but very expensive. Not something I buy everyday, but for a tasty recipe like this, go for it!
OK, you got your sleeves rolled up? The hard part is over. Now we start adding things.
In the soup pot, add the remaining canola oil and heat over medium.
Add the paste mixture to the oil. Cook for two minutes and stir.
Smelling good yet? Add lemongrass shoots and cook about 10 minutes. The mixture will brown a little bit.
Now add stock, coconut milk, sugar and fish sauce. Stir often and cook another 15 minutes.
In the meantime, heat some water to a boil in a separate pot. Pour water into a large bowl, off the heat, soak the noodles (not boil, but soak) for about 10 min. These suckers LOVE liquid. If you add them into the soup now they will eat up all the soup!
Just before serving, add noodles to bowls. Fish out lemongrass stalks (if desired, they are not for eating). Add shrimp if not already cooked to the soup and allow to heat. Cook through just till pink.
Ladle the soup over the bowl of noodles. OMG. So good.
Add a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of scallion and the rest is history. The table is silent. Accept for the slurping of course.