My current strategy for keeping a stable diet involves consuming minimal carbs at night. I figured I wouldn't need the energy rush anytime past 7pm so breakfast time would be break, muffins, muesli and dinner would be protein and veggies.
This is easier said than done; especially when you're in the mood for something heavily spiced. It just so happens that flavorsome food (like... Indian, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian) all 'go' with rice and don't quite work without it. I contemplated making a green curry or massaman curry but even thinking about eating spoonfuls of that stuff without rice was enough to overwhelm me.
In the end, I thought a decent compromise was to make Laksa and use up some of the vermicelli in my pantry. Although this is not technically a 'carb-free' dish, it's still quite light and you can go easy on the vermicelli like I did.
Laksa is a throw-together dish. I chose to make it with tiger prawns, tofu and been sprout. You can try chicken laksa or using a mix of seafood. The soup base is spicy and creamy and like most of these types of dishes, it's open to your own personal preference. My recipe below is just a guide. I went for a half-way prepared method by buying a laksa meal kit and customizing with extra ingredients to my taste. The one I bought was by 'Prima Taste' brand and it came with a laksa paste, a 'laksa premix' (basically a salted coconut milk powder) and sambal chili paste.If you can't find this brand, all you need is a store-bought laksa paste. I haven't tried myself but I've heard that making your own laksa from scratch is more trouble than its worth so it's wise to buy your laksa paste. The 'laksa premix' can be substituted with coconut cream and a bit of chicken stock powder. The sambal chili paste is just a spicy prawn paste used to top your laksa. It looked nice but didn't add much to the already-strong flavors of the soup so I don't think it's a necessity.
Makes 2 servings
- 1/2 cup laksa paste
- 1 cup coconut milk (I used coconut-flavored light evaporated milk)
- 20g 'laksa premix' (or 1/4 cup coconut cream with 1tbsp chicken stock powder)
- handful of bean sprouts
- fish sauce and lime juice (to taste)
- 7-8 raw tiger prawns
- 100g of tofu (I used 1/2 fried tofu and 1/2 firm tofu), chopped into bite-sized pieces
- fried onion (garnish)
- coriander (garnish)
- sambal chili paste (garnish)
1. Peel and de-vein the tiger prawns. I left 4 intact with tails on and cut the rest into bite-sized pieces. Coat evenly with some of the laksa paste and put aside in a bowl.
2. Soak the vermicelli and bean sprouts in hot water. When the vermicelli is soft, drain thoroughly and distribute even quantities amongst 2 large soup bowls. Place some of the bean sprout on top but leave a bit for garnishing.3. In a large wok, dry fry 3/4 the remaining laksa paste with a bit of vegetable oil until fragrant. Add the can of coconut milk and stir through on medium heat.4.Throw in the tofu at this stage so it has time to soak up the flavors.5. If using coconut powder, mix that with a bit of water in a small bowl until it forms a paste. Add to the wok.
6. Taste the soup base and adjust. If you require more spice, add more laksa paste. For a more pungent flavor, add fish sauce. For more tartness, add lime juice. Keep everything simmering on low heat.
7. Meanwhile, heat up some oil in a small frying pan and fry the prawn pieces. Once cooked throughout, add the prawn pieces into the soup base. Leave the whole prawns for garnishing at the end.8. Once you're satisfied with the flavors, construct the laksa. Pour the soup over the vermicelli. Top each bowl with 2 prawns, fried onion, bean sprout, sambal chilli paste and some coriander. Voila it is ready to serve!
I was really pleased with how the laksa turned out. It was also really easy and the taste wasn't really compromised by the fact that I used evaporated milk. When I made the laksa, the tofu was added at the end and didn't get a chance to soak up the flavors, which is why I recommend adding them at the start. If you're a fan of South-East Asian food, definitely try making your own because I find it's often easier than you think, as long as you get a bit of 'help' along the way.