This is one of those recipes that can be very hot, or mild, depending on how many chilies you add. I'm feeling quite pro-chili right now. My sciatica acted up recently, making it unpleasant to sit or lie down. If I do either, a searing pain flashes in my hips when I walk, accompanied by me yelling a long string of obscenities. However, my foul mouth has been silenced (for now). I used a capsicum patch last night, containing capsaicin, the chemical found in chili peppers that causes the burning sensation when you eat the hot varieties. When applied topically, capsaicin overwhelms neurons , making them unable to report pain for an extended period of time. It doesn't work on every type of neuron, but the capsicum patch vanquished my pain all night long. Yes, it felt like a hot heating pad was strapped to my back, but better that than a sciatic nerve making sleep impossible. I've always loved chilies, but now they've assumed superhero status for me.
This delicious curry soup is fast to make, particularly if you use a food processor to make the curry paste. To be authentic, I should have used rice vermicelli, but none was available. Wheat angel hair worked nicely as a substitute. If you can find keffir lime leaves, do give them a try. My supermarket has started to carry them and I keep them in the freezer. Lime zest works if you can't find them, but the keffir leaves have a more complex floral flavor.
I missed last week, but this seemed perfect to submit to Presto Pasta Night, which was started by the wonderful Ruth at Once Upon A Feast. Each Friday Ruth has a recap of wonderful pasta recipes from bloggers from all over the world. So, do stop by and check it out.
Prawns And Coconut Laksa With Vermicelli
(Martha Stewart Living)
1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns, coarsely ground
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, coarsely ground
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, 5 inches of bottom only, chopped
6 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves, shredded, or 1 teaspoon lime zest
1 piece ginger 2 inches long, peeled and chopped
4 shallots, freshly chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 small Thai chilies (use less or none if you can't take the heat)
3 large dried mild red chilies, soaked until soft and seeded and chopped
10 ounces rice vermicelli or regular vermicelli if that is not available
1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
3 Tablespoons oil
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 cans coconut milk
1 3/4 cup chicken stock
12 prawns or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail left intact
juice of 1 lime
1 bunch dill, coarsely chopped
shredded chilies, and scallions for garnish
Pound the peppercorn, coriander seeds, lemongrass, and lime leaves in a mortar and pestle until it starts to break down, then add the ginger, shallots, garlic, and chilies and pound into a coarse paste. Or use a food processor to make the paste.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the noodles, cooking according to instructions. Drain.
Heat the oil in a wok or skillet until hot (not smoking) and add the peanuts and cook until browned, less than a minute. Add the paste and cook, until fragrant, stirring, about 1-2 minutes.
Add the fish sauce, coconut milk, and stock, bring to a simmer (do not boil) and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.. Add the prawns and cook them for about 5 minutes until cooked through. Stir in lime juice, noodles and half the dill. Divide among 6 serving bowls and garnish with shredded scallions, chilies and dill.