Festive feasting with an exotic flavour

Posted on: 11th December, 2017

Category: A Flavour of West Cork

Contributor: Karen Austin

With the feasting season on the way in I have been thinking of recipes for feeding friends and family that are both a bit special but easy to cook.

Laksa is a Malaysian noodle dish with a fragrant coconut broth. It’s comforting and exotic at the same time, Big bowls of steaming noodles with seafood, chicken or vegetables – it’s infinitely variable. It’s also suitable for any guests that have intolerances, as this one pot wonder is gluten and dairy free.

The backbone of this dish is the coconut broth, the choice of what you put in it after that is yours. We’ve enjoyed it with roasted pumpkin and broccoli, tofu and prawns, whatever’s in the vegetable basket, etc….the variations are numerous. It would also be the perfect home for a little chicken or even left over turkey

The coconut broth is made with a laksa paste. Lemongrass, galangal, ginger, chillies, shallots and spices are ground until smooth(ish) – ie bunged in the food processor and buzzed. The paste is then fried and mixed with stock and coconut milk. The stock could be vegetable, chicken or fish, the better the stock, obviously the deeper the flavour.

If you can’t find galangal, use a little more ginger. It’s the same family, just slightly different aromatics.

Although the ingredient list looks long it is simple to make and it can be prepared to a point where it can be left and finished later. Perfect for ‘ta dah’ catering. You can look like the host/ess with the mostest with the utmost ease.

If the thought of gathering these ingredients and buzzing them puts you off you could always take a short cut and buy some laksa paste. The little Asian store in Spillers Lane in Clonakilty stocks both paste and noodles.

All optional additional ingredients should be pre cooked – blanched roasted, or fried, or able to cook in a few minutes in the hot broth. Leftover turkey or other birds must be heated until piping hot.

Laksa Lemak


The paste;

• 1 small onion

• 3 stems of lemongrass

• 4 red chillies

• 3cm piece of ginger

• 3cm piece of galangal

• 4 cloves garlic

• 2 dsp crushed toasted coriander seed

• 5cms fresh turmeric or 1 level tsp turmeric

• 1 tbs palm sugar – use light muscovado if you’re stuck

• 1tsp tamarind concentrate or 1tbs dried tamarind    

• 1tsp shrimp paste


If you are using tamarind concentrate dissolve it in about 50mls of water. If you are using dried tamarind from a block cover it with boiling water and give it a good mash with a fork. Leave for at least ten minutes then put it through a sieve giving the tamarind pods a good squish to extract all the juices.

Toast the coriander seeds in a dry pan then crush in a mortar and pestle or grinder until almost smooth.

Roughly chop the lemongrass, chillies, garlic, galangal, ginger and onion, then process until it becomes a paste, Add the tamarind, palm sugar, crushed coriander and shrimp paste.

This makes enough paste for about six portions of laksa. It needn’t all be used at once. Any that’s left over can be cling wrapped and kept in the fridge or frozen.

The laksa broth

enough for 6 people


• The above spice mix

• 12-18 prawns/ chicken/turkey

• 300g firm tofu – cut into 1-2cm cubes

• 2 pak choi/ baby spinach leaves

• Pre cooked pumpkin/sweet potato (optional)

• a handful beansprouts for each serving

• Fresh coriander and mint chopped

• 2 cans coconut milk

• 600mls chicken, fish or vegetable stock

• 1–2 tbs Nam Pla (Thai fish sauce)

• Rice vermicelli noodles or fresh round rice noodles

• Fresh coriander and mint

• Lime wedges to serve


Put the rice vermicelli into a large bowl, cover with boiling water and put aside. Use approx. 75g per portion.

Heat a little oil in a wok then fry the prawns for a couple of minutes. Put them aside then add a little more oil and fry the spice paste. Turn the heat to medium and cook the spice mix for a few minutes stirring all the time. Add the coconut milk and stock and bring to the boil. When the broth comes to the boil turn the heat to simmer and carefully slip in the tofu followed by the prawns and pumpkin/sweet potato if you are using it. Season with nam pla – taste and add more until the flavour opens up. Nam pla is the ‘salt’ in this dish.

Chop the pak choi, reserve the chopped leaves and sprinkle the stems over the laksa broth, gently encourage them under the liquid. If you are using spinach just stir it in Drain the rice vermicelli and divide between the bowls.

Put a handful of beansprouts on top of each portion of noodles, share out the pak choi leaves if you are using them, chopped coriander and mint, then ladle over the laksa broth.

Serve with lime wedges.

Best wishes and

Happy Feasting


Next year’s cooking schedule is ready. We are doing a series of classes in the spring, kicking off with a Vegan class on February 10 followed by S.E. Asian class, Lebanese, Mediterranean and Salads and Summer Recipes.

Check our website for the full list.

If you are wondering what to give for Christmas, we have gift vouchers for cooking classes and for the shop, as well as lots of baked goodies, homemade truffles and hampers.

Lettercollum Kitchen Project

22, Connolly Street, Clonakilty



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