I know a couple people commented when I shared an asam laksa recipe a few months back that it wasn’t what they would usually think of as laksa. Well that’s probably because the kind we see the most in the West is curry laksa. While there are many variations within that too, they are nearly all made with a spice paste then coconut milk and stock as the ‘sauce’ along with whatever else. Noodles are a must, then usually chicken, shrimp and sometimes tofu balls. However there’s no reason not to make laksa with vegetables, and it can be hearty and delicious like this green bean and squash laksa. With this month’s Foodie Extravaganza taking a noodle theme, and us still getting some chilly days, it felt like a perfect dish to share.
I first made a vegetable laksa from a Nigel Slater book a few years back – it was made with pumpkin and has now become a regular during pumpkin season as one of the many ways we use up our one, or more, pumpkin we get for cooking with. It was actually the first laksa I had made and I didn’t realize before then that they are actually pretty easy to make. Well, apart from one memorable time I was going to make it and we had a power cut. Funnily enough it had to be abandoned that time. But in normal circumstances, you just prepare whatever is going in it veg/meat-wise (they ma need pre-cooked), whizz up the paste ingredients, cook your noodles then fry the paste, add the coconut milk and stock, the meat/veg and cook as long as appropriate, generally just a few minutes, then pour the broth over the noodles. Laksa makes for one incredibly delicious and warming bowl, and this green bean and squash laksa is no exception.
With laksas you can vary a few things to taste and you might want to try them more than once to get what works best for you – the amount of chili in the paste, the amount of broth to everything else, and the amount of vegetables in the case of this one are all a bit personal in what works for you. In fact the photos here show what I made but not quite what I have written as the recipe as I felt I had skimped on the broth and gone a little over on the squash so I have adjusted to what I think would be better (but didn’t manage to re-do photos yet). I still like quite a lot of vegetables in mine, so it’s still a hearty bowl, but a little better balanced.
You won’t miss the meat in this green bean and squash laksa as the vegetables are filling but not too heavy and the squash soaks up a bit of the delicious, spicy broth. As I said you can spice it up or down to taste, but either way it’s going to be flavorful with all the fantastic lime, lemongrass, ginger etc in there. While it’s pretty quick to make anyway, you can also make a double batch of the spice paste, and even steam the vegetables, and keep them in the fridge a day or two to make again. All in all it’ a wonderful bowl of deliciousness, so don’t assume as I did before that it’s difficult – it’s not, and needs to be made soon.
- 10oz/280g butternut squash (peeled weight)
- 4-5oz/110-140g green beans
- 100g noodles - traditionally thin rice noodles but other thin noodles will work
- For the spice paste -
- zest of 1 lime
- 5 stems of fresh cilantro/coriander, including stems (thick ends removed)
- 2-3 salad/spring onions
- 2 hot red chilies (or more or less to taste)
- 1in/2.5cm piece fresh root ginger
- 1½tbsp minced lemongrass, about 1 stem
- 1tbsp sesame oil
- 1tsp ground coriander
- ½tsp turmeric
- To finish -
- 1tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup/240ml coconut milk
- 2 cups/480ml stock
- 1tbsp soy sauce
- 1tbsp fish sauce (omit for vegan/vegetarian option)
- juice of 1 lime
- Dice the peeled and de-seeded squash in to bite-sized pieces and steam until tender to the knifepoint - around 10min but may vary depending on steamer/how densely packed etc.
- Trim the ends of the beans and cut longer ones into shorter pieces and steam them as well - they will be quicker so it's best to do them separately, or you can boil them around 3-5min until just tender.
- Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions and divide between two bowls.
- Meanwhile prepare the spice paste - peel the ginger and cut into chunks, take the end of the chilies and remove seeds if you want it less hot, leave in if you want hotter, and roughly chop the cilantro and salad/spring onions then put all the paste ingredients (lime zest, cilantro, salad onions, chilies, ginger, lemongrass, sesame oil, ground coriander and turmeric) in a small food processor/blender and blend until a fairly smooth paste. A few lumps are fine.
- Heat the oil in a wok or skillet/frying pan and fry the spice paste for a minute or two, stirring regularly. Add the coconut milk and stock and bring to a simmer. Add the soy sauce, fish sauce (if using) and lime juice as well as the squash and beans. Cook for a couple minutes to allow the flavors to mingle. Adjust the lime/soy to taste if needed.
- Carefully divide the vegetables between the bowls and pour over the broth/sauce.
See all the other noodle dishes being shared today, thanks to Lauren of From Gate to Plate for hosting this month:
One Pot Garlic Pasta by From Gate to Plate
Haluski (Fried Cabbage & Noodles) by Making Miracles
Homemade Chinese Noodles by Fearlessly Creative Mammas
Spicy Shrimp with Peanut Noodles by cookinandcraftin
Bacon and Beer Mac & Cheese by Sew You Think You Can Cook
Sopa Seca de Fideo – Spicy Mexican Noodles by Food Lust People Love
Green Bean and Squash Laksa by Caroline’s Cooking
Kakaós Tészta (Hungarian Cocoa Noodles) by Tara’s Multicultural Table
MiMi’s Baked Ziti by Cooking With Carlee
Tortellini and Tomato Salad by The Freshman Cook
Homemade Noodles by Our Good Life
Tossed Homemade Macaroni Noodles by A Day in the Life on the Farm
Kids’ Special# 4 – Soft Noodles with Veggies and Poached Egg | G’Gina’s Kitchenette
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