This was a good Lenten lunch, adapted from a recipe in Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World. It is Malaysian and origin and is similar to Laksa. It could be made with shrimp or chicken. This made 4 servings and took about 45 minutes. With 1 serrano pepper it was moderately spicy.
3 garlic cloves, peeled
3 shallots, peeled
1 serrano chili, seeded
1 Tbs. tamarind paste (made by soaking some tamarind in hot water)
2 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground turmeric
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 lemongrass stalk, trimmed and bruised
1 quart stock or water. (I used Beef Flavored Paste for Boat Noodle Soup, which contained no beef at all)
1 lb. fresh Chinese egg noodles (such as Lo Mein noodles)
1.5 cups bean sprouts
1 cup canned coconut milk
4 hard cooked eggs, sliced
0.5 lb. firm tofu, sliced
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced, salted and drained
Fish sauce to taste
Put the garlic, shallots, serrano, tamarind paste, coriander, and turmeric in the bowl of a food processor and chop into a paste.
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Fry the paste until fragrant, about a minute. Add the lemongrass and the stock or water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk and cook another 5 minutes. Add fish sauce to taste. (How much is needed will depend on the saltiness of the stock used.
While the soup is cooking, heat a separate pot of water. When boiling, add the noodles and bean sprouts and boil until the noodles are cooked, about 3-5 minutes. Drain.
Set out 4 large soup bowls. Distribute the egg and tofu between the bowls. Add the cooked noodles and bean sprouts. Add the hot soup. Sprinkle the top with the sliced cucumbers and serve immediately.