This laksa not only looks fairly spectacular – with a tiny fried egg and squid tentacles floating on top – it also has a splendid array of clean tastes, all of which work well together. The sweetness of the pumpkin is a perfect foil to the chilli-fired heat.
Bring the fish stock to the boil and add the wedges of pumpkin; boil the pumpkin until cooked and remove from the pot, but keep warm. Add the noodles to the pot and cook until done. Drain through a colander into a large bowl, keeping the liquid.
Return the emptied pot to the heat and heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil until it begins to smoke. Add the baby squid and fry for 2 minutes, then remove and place with the pumpkin. Add the remaining sesame oil and, when hot, add the next five ingredients. Fry for 1 minute on a high heat, stirring well, then add the still warm fish stock, fish sauce, tamari and tamarind and turn to a simmer. After 5 minutes add the lime juice. While this is cooking, fry the quail eggs in a little cooking oil or a non-stick pan. Warm the six bowls and divide the noodles, pumpkin and squid between them, then ladle in the boiling liquid. Carefully place a quail’s egg on top of each and add fresh coriander to taste.
© 1997 Peter Gordon. All rights reserved.