Laksa is a spicy noodle soup that is popular in Singapore and Malaysia. There are a gabillion different variations of it. Some have a curry-coconut broth while others have a sour fish broth or tamarind-based broth. Laksa can be made with seafood, chicken, beef, and/or tofu. This particular Laksa recipe is one I came up with after scanning about 20 other Laksa recipes online. It’s not all that authentic, but it is quick, tasty, easy to prepare, and the ingredients can be found in most American grocery stores.
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced (or about 1 tablespoon of ginger paste)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon (or to taste) sambal olek (sriracha can be substituted)
4 cups broth (vegetable, chicken, shrimp, etc…)
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 package rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions
fish sauce, to taste
fresh lime wedges
chopped fresh chiles (optional)
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat and sauté the onion softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the cumin, coriander, turmeric, and sambal olek (or sriracha). Add the broth and bring to a boil.
As soon as the soup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and add the shrimp and coconut milk. Let cook until shrimp is pink and cooked through, about 3 – 4 minutes. Season to taste with the fish sauce, about 1 tablespoon.
Divide the cooked rice noodles in bowls and ladle the soup over the noodles. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and serve with lime wedges and chiles (optional).
I like making Kimchi, but I usually make too much. Making a stew with the remaining Kimchi is a great way to ensure it doesn’t go to waste. I have made a Kimchi Stew using tofu, but I like this one made with chicken more. It’s even better the next day.
You will have to go to an Asian market (or Korean market) to find the Gochujang and Gochugaru. I’ve never seen these items in a regular grocery store. If you don’t want to make your own Kimchi, you can get it at the Asian market too. Get the fish sauce (I like Three Crabs brand) and the Chinese cooking wine there as well. These ingredients are essentials for many Korean or Asian recipes. Buy them and challenge yourself to use them.
Kimchi and Chicken Stew
5 dehydrated shiitake mushrooms
1 small onion, thinly slivered
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
2 cups your favorite kimchi
1 tablespoon Gochujang (Korean fermented hot pepper paste)
1 tablespoon Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon Chinese cooking wine
1 cup chicken broth
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
salt and black pepper, to taste
Cooked rice, hot
Place the shiitake mushrooms in a bowl. Add enough hot water to cover. Soak until the mushrooms are soft, about 20 – 30 minutes. Remove the stems from the rehydrated mushrooms and slice thinly.
Heat the sesame oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and ginger and cook a couple more minutes, until fragrant. Add the kimchi, Gochujang, Gochugaru, fish sauce, Chinese cooking wine, chicken broth, raw chicken, and the sliced rehydrated shiitake mushrooms. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the stew to a slight boil. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Taste, and season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve with hot rice.
This is one of my favorite soups. It’s so flavorful. Traditionally, it is not done in the crockpot, but there is no reason why it can’t be. Cooking it in the crockpot is not only easy, but it allows for the flavors to meld as it cooks over several hours. It turns out fantastic! To make it a little more substantial, sometimes we will eat this soup over some cooked rice vermicelli noodles.
This recipe contains several ingredients that may not be easy to find in a regular grocery store. Use this recipe as an excuse to visit an Asian market. I cook so much Thai food that I tend to keep these ingredients on hand.
Galangal: I have rarely been able to find fresh galangal, but I have been able to find it frozen or dried at Asian markets. If you use dried galangal, don’t mince it, instead throw a handful of slices into the soup. Remove the galangal slices (as you would a bay leaf) before serving. If you are unable to get galangal, you may substitute ginger instead.
Lemongrass: I am able to find lemongrass at my local Asian market. I will buy a bunch and clean it up and freeze it to use later. I have also seen a lemongrass paste in the produce section of my Publix. I would think 1 tablespoon of the paste could be used instead of minced lemongrass. If you can’t find lemongrass, you can leave it out.
Kaffir Lime Leaves: These are actually kind of hard to find in any store. This may seem strange, but I buy them on ebay, usually from someone in California that has a kaffir lime tree growing in their yard. They go out and pick the leaves and mail them. The leaves ship well and don’t need to be refrigerated right after picking. Once I get my kaffir lime leaves, I freeze them. They keep forever in the freezer. Lime zest can be substituted for kaffir lime leaves. The flavor isn’t exactly the same, but it is similar.
Sambal Olek: They actually sell this at Target in the ethnic food section. It is usually right next to the sriracha.
Crockpot Tom Kha Gai (Thai Coconut Chicken Soup)
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
8 ounces mushrooms, washed and thickly sliced
5 cups chicken broth
1 13.5 (approximately) ounce can coconut milk
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1-inch piece galangal, minced (substitute ginger if you can’t find galangal)
1/2 stalk lemongrass, finely minced
3 kaffir lime leaves, rib removed and julienned (substitute zest of 1 lime)
1 teaspoon sambal olek (or sriracha)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon Thai basil, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Combine all the ingredients except the Thai basil and fresh cilantro in the crockpot. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 8 hours. Right before serving, remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot along with the Thai basil and fresh cilantro. Serve with additional chopped fresh cilantro.
It’s not the prettiest soup, but it is loaded with flavor. I omitted the traditional tofu (and pork) and then added cabbage, carrots, and bamboo shoots to this vegetarian version of Hot and Sour Soup. It’s a delicious and filling soup and it only comes in at around 59 calories per 1 cup serving.
Dried shiitake mushrooms and black fungus are some of my favorite ingredients found in an Asian market. They are essential for this soup. Yet another reason to visit an Asian market. Go.
Vegetarian Hot and Sour Soup
6 dried shiitake mushrooms
handful of dried black fungus (also know as wood ear mushrooms)
3 cups hot water
8 cups vegetable broth
2 cups thinly shredded cabbage (green, Savoy, or Napa)
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1/2 5 ounce can bamboo shoots, drained and julienned
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine
1 teaspoon sambal olek or sriracha
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 6 tablespoons water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
In separate bowls, soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in 2 cups of hot water and the dried black fungus in 1 cup of hot water until soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the stems from the shiitakes and discard. Slice the rehydrated mushrooms thinly and return to the soaking liquid. Set aside. Thinly slice the rehydrated black fungus. I find it easier to stack a few pieces, roll them up, and then slice with a very sharp knife. Add the sliced shiitakes and their soaking liquid, as well as the sliced black fungus to a soup pot. Discard the black fungus soaking liquid.
Add the vegetable broth to the soup pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add the shredded cabbage, julienned carrot and bamboo shoots, minced garlic and ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, Chinese cooking wine, sambal olek (or sriracha), sesame oil, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil and cook until the cabbage is tender, 10 minutes.
Stir in the cornstarch/water slurry and cook until the soup slightly thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and then slowly add the beaten eggs in a thin stream while stirring the soup. Serve immediately.
Earlier this year, I revamped one of my favorite Thai soups to make it vegetarian, as well as acceptable for the low iodine diet I was on at the time. I was super happy with the way the soup turned out. It was delicious! So flavorful.
I replaced the traditional fish sauce with a Umami Sauce I made. I typically use my favorite Madras curry powder in this recipe, but I included a recipe for a Madras-style curry powder at the bottom of the recipe anyway. I have a big collection of spices, but I realize not everyone does, so feel free to replace the Madras curry powder with any store-bought Indian curry powder. For the noodles you can use linguine (or spaghetti) or rice noodles.
I contacted Thai Kitchen via their Facebook page and asked about the type of salt they use in their products. Turns out they do not use iodized salt. This opens a world of possibilities for those on a low iodine diet. The Thai Kitchen red curry paste should not be hard to find. Look in the ethnic section of your grocery store. I actually bought a jar at Target.
Chiang Mai Curry Noodle Soup with Vegetables
1/2 lb. linguine, cooked
1 tsp. vegetable oil
1 – 3 tsp. Thai Kitchen red curry paste (to taste)
1 T. Madras curry powder (recipe follows)
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 can (13.5 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock (unsalted or homemade for LID)
3 tablespoons Umami Sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 head green cabbage, cored and shredded
4 ounces sugar snap peas, strings removed and halved (you can use snow peas instead)
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (or use the mushrooms left over from making the Umami Sauce)
1/2 to 1 12 ounce (approximately) can baby corn, drained
1 cup fresh spinach, torn
Kosher salt, to taste
fresh cilantro leaves
unsalted peanuts, crushed
limes, cut into wedges
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shredded cabbage and cook until just tender. Add the red curry paste, curry powder, and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant (about 40 seconds). Whisk in coconut milk and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, add Umami Sauce and sugar, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar snap peas, mushrooms, and baby corn and simmer until all the veggies are tender, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with kosher salt. Stir in torn spinach and take off the heat.
Divide noodles in soup bowls, ladle soup into bowls, and top with fresh cilantro leaves and crushed unsalted peanuts. Serve with a wedge of lime.
Quick and Easy Salt-Free Madras Curry Powder
3 tablespoons ground turmeric
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine all of the spices and store in a glass Mason jar.
I made this soup for lunch today using mustard greens from my CSA box. In the US, one might think of greens as a Southern thing, but mustard greens actually originated in Asia and are commonly found in cuisines around the world. For this soup, I had the flavors of Southeast Asia in mind. The spices compliment the bite of the mustard greens.
Spicy Chicken and Mustard Greens Noodle Soup
8 ounces flat rice noodles (I use pho bahn)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (use your favorite, I use canola)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic
1 bunch mustard greens, washed well and chopped (about 4 – 5 cups)
8 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 – 2 tablespoons fish sauce, to taste
Soak the rice noodles in hot water for 15 minutes until they become pliable. Drain and set aside.
Using a mortar and pestle (or grind in a small food processor) pound the garlic, black peppercorns, red chile flakes, and cumin seeds together.
Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the sliced chicken and cook until no longer pink. Add the garlic-spice mixture to the pan and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the mustard greens, chicken broth, and soy sauce to the pot and cook until the greens are tender, about 10 minutes. Just before serving, add the rice noodles and fish sauce (to taste) and cook for about 2 minutes more or until the rice noodles are tender.
This is a very simple Vietnamese soup. It makes for a nice lunch or light dinner. You can find the rice vermicelli noodles and fish sauce in the ethnic section of some grocery stores. You can also find these ingredients at Asian markets. Check out the produce while you are at the Asian market. You can often find bok choy and other Asian vegetables at very reasonable prices.
I have made this soup dozens of times and have used all kinds of greens in it. Today I used some Swiss chard that I got in this week’s CSA box. It was another beautiful box from Pinckney’s Produce. It contained strawberries, spring onions, bok choy, Swiss chard, collard greens, buttercrunch lettuce, spring mix, turnips, and turnip greens.
Vietnamese Chicken and Noodle Soup with Greens
1 chicken breast
6 cups chicken broth
4 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
1 head of bok choy or a small bunch of Swiss chard, washed well.
3 tablespoons fish sauce (I like Three Crabs brand)
black pepper, to taste
In a large bowl, soak the rice vermicelli noodles in hot water for 15 minutes or until they are softened. Drain well in a colander. Once drained, cut the noodles into 2-inch lengths using kitchen shears.
In a soup pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and add the chicken breast. Cook, skimming off any foam that rises to the top, until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and cool until it is easy enough to handle. Shred the chicken and add back to the broth.
Remove the stems from the bok choy or Swiss chard and save for another use. Cut the greens into shreds and add to the broth. Add the softened rice vermicelli noodles and fish sauce to the chicken broth. Heat through. Season with black pepper and ladle the soup into serving bowls.