Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chicken Laksa

My husband and I shared one of our most favorite meals on a private beach in Thailand: laksa.  After seeing a recipe for chicken laksa in a recent issue of Sunset magazine, I decided it was the perfect meal for us to make together on the day of luv.  It wasn't as good as what we shared several years ago, but that was to be expected and it still tasted special and exotic.

*I used a combination of seeds and ground spices from the list below.  I was hoping my mini-food processor would do a better job of grinding the seeds.  Eh.

2 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 cloves
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
5 to 8 dried arbol chilies, stemmed
2 lemongrass stalks
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound boned, skinned chicken thighs, cubed
1 tsp shrimp paste: 

I would suggest only using 1/2 tsp. of this potent paste.  Either way, your house will be filled with a not-so-pleasant aroma that can't be avoided.  It's a key ingredient.  You've been warned.

3 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
1 qt. chicken broth
2 tsp sugar
3 tsp salt
1 cinnamon stick
6 oz. mung bean sprouts, rinsed
8 oz. wide rice noodles
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, torn
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, torn
lime wedges

Grind coriander, peppercorns, cumin, fennel, cloves, turmeric, and chiles coarsely in a spice grinder.  Peel tough outer layers from lemongrass, then mash core with a meat mallet or small, heavy frying pan.

The lemongrass is somewhere under that pan and those calloused feet!

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add chicken, shrimp paste, shallots, and reserved spices and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 2 minutes.

Pour in coconut milk, brother, sugar, and salt; add cinnamon and lemongrass.  Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, 20 minutes.

Boil bean sprouts in a large pot of boiling water until softened, 2 minutes.  Transfer sprouts to a bowl.  Add noodles to pot and cook until firm, 4 minutes.  Drain; rinse well.

Divide sprouts and noodles among 6 bowls.  Ladle in soup (remove cinnamon and lemongrass) and top with mint and cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges.

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