Tiddly’s Chicken Laksa

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Malaysia and its islands are cocooned by seas whose names reveal a great diversity of cultural influences — the Indian Ocean, the Java Sea, the Andaman Sea, the South China Sea. The Malay cuisine speaks directly of these influences, and Singapore (established by the British in the nineteenth century) is probably the hottest part of the Malaysian melting pot.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons laksa paste
  • 1 400ml tin coconut milk
  • A bunch of fresh coriander
  • 600ml/1pint chicken stock
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 2 teaspoons grated palm sugar
  • A splash of fish sauce
  • 200g/7oz purple sprouting broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 200g/7oz pak choi, roughly chopped
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 200g/7oz straight-to-wok rice noodles
  • 2 large handfuls of beansprouts
  • A Small bunch of spring onions, sliced as thinly as you can

Method

To start with, lightly fry the sliced shallots in a little vegetable oil until brown and crisp and set them aside.

Put the laksa paste into a pan with a splash of coconut milk and heat gently until the paste starts to release its glorious aroma. Finely slice the stalks of the coriander — reserving the leaves for later — and add to the pan. Cook for a minute or two, then add the remaining coconut milk and the chicken stock and gradually bring to the boil.

While you are waiting, thinly slice the chicken. When the liquid in the pan has reached the boil, add the chicken, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the meat has cooked through.

Add the lime juice, palm sugar, fish sauce, broccoli, pak choi, coriander leaves and a generous grind of pepper. Give it all a stir and leave to simmer for 3—4 minutes, until the greens are cooked to perfection — they should still have a little crunch.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Put the noodles into a bowl and pour some of the boiling water over them, enough to cover. Leave for about 3 minutes, then drain. Put the pan back on the heat, bring back to the boil, and add the beansprouts. Drain, then refresh in cold water. Place a pile of noodles in each bowl, and divide the beansprouts and spring onions between the portions. Ladle the liquid and chicken over the top. Finish with a generous sprinkling of the fried shallots and a drizzle of chilli sauce.

To serve

  • A few shallots, Asian if possible, finely sliced
  • A little vegetable oil
  • Chilli sauce
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