Saturday, March 29, 2008
Mortar and Pestle--what an invention!
I'm still unemployed at the moment, and A. has been off to work ALL day, EVERY day since I quit my job. It's me, the dog, and the cat rattling around in our apartment. Technically, this is supposed to be dissertation time, but I can't get out of the kitchen! I've been experimenting with dishes I've already made, seeing if I can make them better, and I've got a few new recipes to try out. So, I redid the vegetable tart (originally posted Sept. 8), and it came out MUCH better. So much better that A. agreed that I could serve it if ever my vegetarian friends come over for dinner.
I also went to Chinatown and bought my own Thai-style mortar and pestle FINALLY. I used it to make laksa, and the results are so vastly improved that A. said I could make it for her Singaporean friends. Heavens! I am improving my leaps and bounds. So, disregard the post of Sept. 24, though I will leave it up, and do this instead (if you have a mortar and pestle):
Rempah (rempah is a shrimp paste):
some dried prawns
2 slices lemon grass
15 slices blue ginger
2 T. belachan
1 T. turmeric
Put everything but the turmeric in your mortar, and with a circular, not-too-forceful motion, grind it in to a paste. When it's all paste-like, stir in the turmeric. This is ingredient #1 for the rest of the recipe.
Now I'm guilty of that thing that drives me nuts in A.'s mom's emails--she doesn't put how *much* of the ingredients to put it. Well, sometimes it's not that important; if you hate bean sprouts, don't put them in, if you LOVE bean sprouts put a bunch in. Either way. I've consistently neglected to put the shredded cucumber on top, but A. hasn't complained about it. OK, onward!
Rempah (see above)
2 C. water (or shrimp stock, which you can make from the heads and shells of the boiled prawns)
2 cans of coconut milk
1 lb. Prawns or shrimp - peeled and boiled
Fishballs - boiled
A handful of mung bean sprouts - boiled
Beehoon (rice vermicelli) boiled and rinsed in cold water
Cucumber (for garnishing) - shredded
Laksa leaf (daun kesom) - wash and shred
Stir fry the rempah, adding a little sprinkle of water now and then to prevent burning. When the rempah is very fragrant (after a few minutes) add the rest of the water (or stock). Stir over medium-low heat. Pour in the coconut milk, stir and simmer. When hot, add the boiled prawns and fishballs. In the menatime, put your boiled and rinsed noodles into three to four big bowls. To serve, ladle the laksa over the noodles, garnish with sprouts, cucumber, and laksa leaves. Serve with chopsticks and a big spoon.