I’m baaaack! It’s been awhile, I admit. I figured I might as well give this up… but wait. There’s so much to say! Much to my waistline’s chagrin, I have been cooking a lot! Over the holidays I discovered fudge. That was generally a bad idea: the fudge was delicious. Too delicious. Ate too much of it, delicious. Repeatedly. Fortunately, I only made two batches, and gave quite a bit away. In other culinary news, I’ve been eating venison breakfast sausage from a local deer, been eating seafood like its going out of style, and have managed to expand my appetite to the… Orient? Asian? Ummm, the far east? Between making miso, perfecting making rice, and eating crab and fish soups with rice noodles, I have quite the appetite for “asian” food… I really just eat bits and pieces from various areas, but my dad insists my soul lies in Malaysia. Why? Well, I discovered laksa.

The love affair with the dish that has its roots everywhere (Malaysia, China, Thailand, etc), laksa, began a few months ago, really.  After donning my favorite bunny slippers, I glanced over my dad’s World’s Best Soups book, and came across this recipe for prawn laksa. It haunted me again from another book I borrowed from his ample collection, a few weeks later. The culmination of the formulation that I must try this “laksa” thing, was watching an Anthony Bourdain episode where he encounters the intoxicating spicy noodle dish with laksa gravy. The burbling pot of brownish liquid topped with ample pools of bright red oil had me mesmerized; this laksa was not to be passed up as a recipe layed to the wayside. Having no restaurants locally for me to try this magic concoction at, I was left to follow a recipe. The first time I looked at the recipe, and following my own misguided path, wound up with what could only be described as the best damn tasting fish soup I had ever come across! But it wasn’t laksa. Laksa should have a thicker broth, and be made with candlenuts… I kept mumbling over the next few attempts… adding even more red curry paste as I went.

Putting on my Seychelle’s Power Yoga shoes, I hit up my local Asia Market (seriously, that’s the name). I disturbed the owners from their lunch because I was too blind to see the candlenuts directly to my left, and quickly found everything I had been missing, and also picked up a beautiful daikon radish…. I’ve been eating lots of miso soup as well. The daikon is such a great touch in it!

But I digress, armed with laksa leaf, candlenuts, coconut milk, a fresh kaffir lime, cilantro, and green onion, I was set.  Finally, the bubbling brew I saw on tv was about to be at my very own house! I crushed the candlenuts, grinding them into a paste, and combined it with the fiery red curry paste (with additional softened chile pods, deseeded) and simmered them in a touch of sesame oil. When the oil started to separate from the paste, I know it was time to add the coconut milk and stock I had made from a rockfish head. Sometimes working as a fish monger really has its perks. Soon, the bubbling brew came to life! At a very low simmer, the broth formed a lovely layer of red chile oil that promised tear jerking, sweat inducing pleasurable pain of eating food that is just a little spicier than you can tolerate, and I made my noodles. I topped my rice vermicelli noodles with bean sprouts, pieces of rockfish fillet, green onion, hand shredded daikon and courgette,  and poured in the laksa “gravy”. Topping the whole mess with the essential laksa leaf, I stared at my meal for a moment, said a prayer for its life, and without even bothering to sit down at the counter or kick off my heels, I devoured it. As promised, it was fiery; as promised, it was delicious beyond measure! There will be many more batches of laksa in my future!

Here’s what the concoction looks like: I sadly haven’t taken a picture yet, but a fellow wordpress blogger has a great picture!

expatbrian.wordpress.com

thank you, fellow wordpress blogger!

On a side note, my father is an amazing person that influences me, and will continue to long after he’s gone. Sometimes, he’s a jack ass, but most of the time, he’s my father. He knows me better than anyone, and for some strange reason is still proud of me. He may not say it aloud, but I see it in his eyes. We have grown closer over the woks and skillets of our various kitchens, mastering our own versions of southwest cuisine, italian, and asian, learning as much as we could from each other, and always working well in even the smallest of kitchens. Although he doesn’t invade my kitchen space every day, I still hear him in my head saying little things like, tuck your fingers back or you’ll lose them. So, to my father, thanks for the culinary curiosity, and may your kitchen always have rice!

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