December 16, 2013 by dgarnett2013
First make the spice paste – you can do this days before.
- 3 long fat stalks of lemon grass, mincing only their tender hearts and reserving the rest of the stalks for another use
- 4 hot red chilies, discarding the stem and as many seeds as you wish to reduce the fire of the paste
- 4 slices of galangal (substitute ginger if you can’t find this fresh)
- thumb-size lump of ginger
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
- 3 shallots, peeled and chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic
- 4 Tablespoons peanut oil
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 cup tamarind paste
Put the minced lemon grass hearts, chilies, galangal/ginger, shrimp paste, shallots, garlic, and oil in a blender and liquify it into a speckled mush. Add the cilantro, turmeric, sugar, and tamarind paste and blend at the highest speed until it is a colorful but uniform paste. Scoop into a glass jar (it will stain plastic) and refrigerate until you’re ready to use.
Prepare the noodles and chicken:
- 1/2 pound noodles (thick or thin rice, wheat, or beanthread noodles are fine–rice noodles are most traditional)
- 4 cups cooked chicken
Use leftover chicken if you have it. If not, poach chicken breasts and/or thighs in a large pan with carrot, onion, parsley and a few whole black peppercorns.
Cook the noodles according to package directions, rinse, and set aside. Cut the chicken in bitesize juicy cubes.
Make the soup:
- 2 Tablespoons peanut oil
- prepared spice paste (it’s about a cup)
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup Asian basil (laksa leaf), chopped
- 1/4 cup nam pla (or other fish sauce)
- 1 can coconut milk (13.5 fl. ounces/400 ml.)
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat, then stir in the paste–and keep stirring until it is a little browned (don’t burn!), about 3 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, stir in herbs and fish sauce, and simmer for 5 minutes. When you’re ready to begin assembly, stir in the coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
Prepare garnishes (your choice how many):
- crisp bean sprouts
- Asian basil
- sambal or garlic-chili hot sauce
- preserved carrots
- julienne cucumber
Divide the noodles among the large bowls. Arrange the chicken over the noodles. Pour the soup over everything. Either arrange garnishes on top or pass them separately.
Made the day we decorated the Christmas tree.