Whenever I get really fed up of eating solo, my hands start to itch to make something nice. Since there was half of a pumpkin lurking in the fridge, I decided to make pumpkin and tomato laksa from Nigel Slater's The Kitchen Diaries versus my usual standby of roast pumpkin.
As usual, I had a hitch when trying out a recipe for the first time. My pumpkin cubes were slightly overcooked - I think I shouldn't have left them too long in the steamer since they were already quite soft as it had been in the fridge for quite some time. Overcooking the pumpkin caused it to merge with the broth making it thick and orangey but it didn't affect it's taste as it was still fantastic. You can't see the noodles as they're underneath so at one glance you'll think this is roast pumpkin soup served with cherry tomatoes topped with a sprinkling of coriander and mint leaves!
To recreate this at home:
- Cut the pumpkin into cubes and steam them. Watch the pumpkin closely as you don't want it overcooked like mine. The recipe says 12 to 15 minutes but since I used a local pumpkin which was sitting in the fridge for a while, I guess I should have steamed it for less.
- Make the spice paste by blitzing them in an electric blender the following: garlic cloves, kaffir lime leaves, coriander roots, coriander leaves and stems, fresh ginger, chilli padi (bird eye's chilli) and lemon grass. The spice paste can get quite mild so if you want lots of fire, add lots of chilli padi unseeded. If it's too thick, add a bit of oil to make the paste go round.
- Cook the noodles seperately in boiling hot water. I used thin rice noodles but what would be more ideal will be thin Thai laksa noodles.
- Heat up oil in a deep base pan and fry the spice paste to get rid of the raw taste. Add chicken stock and coconut milk to boil. Once boiled, add nam pla (fish sauce) and calamansi lime juice (Nigel uses lemon juice but I wanted it localised hence the use of calamansi lime juice instead) to taste. You can add more if you wish it to be more tangy. Add the halved cherry tomatoes to boil for about seven minutes.
- You can add the pumpkin cubes in for a minute once the tomatoes are cooked to heat it up. If your pumpkin cubes are soft like mine, don't add them into the pot but spoon them into the bowl when you are ready to serve.
- Place the cooked noodles in a bowl and add the laksa broth. Top with lots of coriander and mint leaves. If you want your laksa to be spicier, add chilli flakes. Enjoy with gusto accompanied with a great television show i.e. CSI.