Vegan Laksa


DSC_0036-001Vegan Laksa

16 years ago I was living in Australia and attending University. I worked in downtown Sydney near the Queen Victoria Building. Around the corner from my work was a fantastic little Malaysian Restaurant on George Street. They made the most incredible Laksa in the whole city. People swooned over it. While I can’t pretend I’ve created an exact replica of their recipe, this comes pretty close and has the bonus of being veganized.

Note: Real Laksa contains lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, shrimp paste and candlenuts, none of which are easily available in my little community. Restaurants are also notorious for using dairy milk in the recipe to stretch it and cut the cost of the coconut milk. Obviously I’m not gonna use dairy milk or shrimp paste and I’ve improvised with the other ingredients to make a dish that most people can recreate at home with ingredients found at their local supermarket.

Vegan Laksa

  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 4 C. vegetable stock
  • 1 carrot, julliened
  • 1/4 head roughly chopped cabbage
  • few leaves bok choy, torn into pieces
  • 2 T. fresh ginger, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 1 t. to 1 T. sriracha or red curry powder/paste (depending on heat preference)
  • 1 oz. yellow noodles (can use udon or thin spaghetti)
  • 1 oz. thin rice noodles
  • 1 T. agave
  • 2 C. water
  • 1 C. raw cashews (replaces the candlenuts) soak these for a few hours if you don’t have a power blender
  • 2 T. bragg’s liquid aminos, soy sauce or tamari
  • sea salt, to taste
  • 1 block tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 4 diced scallions, for garnish
  • basil/mint leaves for garnish
  • hot chili oil or sambal olek chili paste for garnish

Method: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the cubed tofu on a baking sheet lined with a silpat or parchment paper. Sprinkle with a bit of salt if desired. Cook for 20-25 minutes until crispy, turning once. While tofu is baking, cook yellow noodles and rice noodles according to package directions, drain and set aside. Blend cashews, water and red curry powder/paste until completely smooth. Add coconut milk, spiced cashew liquid and vegetable stock to a large pot. Heat over medium high heat. Add all the vegetables, spices and seasonings, except those used for garnish. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until veggies are just crisp/tender. Remove from heat. Divide noodles between 4-6 bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles, garnish with pieces of the baked tofu, the basil/mint, scallions and the chili paste.


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Filed under Soups and Stews, Vegan

42 responses to “Vegan Laksa

  1. Hey Somer, if you ever need good supplies, check out I worked for them for a few years, before I had the younger kids :)

    • Do they offer fresh stuff? Cause dried just isn’t the same… ;)

      • Yes :-) They ship it via Priority. Trimming lemongrass shipments were always a “fun” day. The Thai Basil shipments, I’d reek of it when I came out :-D
        It is really good used as a stick when BBQ’ing, and sliding veggies on it.

        • I’ll have to check it out! I would love to have those fresh ingredients, though I may not blog about it since most readers won’t be able to re-create recipes! Thanks Sarah! xx

          • The job was good for free food I can tell you ;-) I did a bit of everything, mostly running the warehouse. I tried pretty much everything we carried, so I could talk to customers about it.
            It is weird I know…out here, even the smallest grocery store has an “Asian” section. And much of it is stuff that is imported. Yeah, I know….tough life, eh?

  2. I have never seen anything like this – it looks amazing! So creamy and full of flavor, so loving this recipe!

  3. What a tricky ‘redo’ to veganize. Sounds wonderfully full of great flavor and great nutrition!

  4. I love everything about this. I think I’ll be making it very soon.

  5. As an Aussie I used to eat a whole lot of laksa on the mainland but it isn’t as popular here (the natives are both “restless” and “suspicious” ;) ) however I did a quick search and found 2 sites with ideas for how to add that shrimpy flavour back into the laksa vegan style…

    So anyone wanting to give their Laksa a bit more “oompf” can try them. Cheers for reminding me that I haven’t had laksa in a while and it’s time to revisit an old friend :). I always add both wheat and rice noodles but might make some Korean ricecakes to add to this batch for a little bit more texture. Might even mess about with adding some flavour to those ricecakes…I feel a new recipe abrewin’! :)

    • Haha, restless and suspicious natives! Thanks for the links. I’m a little grossed out by shrimp paste to be honest with you, but I’m sure some of my readers will be interested in adding the shrimpy sort of flavor into this soup. I’ve never had Korean ricecakes, must check em out. I ate buckets of this stuff when I lived in Sydney!

  6. I was living in Sydney and going to uni 16 years ago too. :)
    I have had many a delicious laksa in that part of the city.
    I occasionally make one at home. We are fortunate to be able to find lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves in my neck of the woods.
    I think your recipe looks great. I also add shiitake mushrooms. Whenever we are near a big Asian supermarket, I always check if they have puff tofu- oh how I love the texture and the way it soaks up the coconut milk!
    Thanks for your recipe.

    • Ally, how cool! What Uni? I was at MacQuarie. The puff tofu isn’t readily available here either. My goodness, that was my favorite part of the soup. Even the carnivores in Sydney usually order the tofu version because it’s so superior! I would love your recipe to try. Is it on your blog? xx

      • Hi Somer! I went to the Uni of NSW (UNSW) and prior to that, the Uni of Western Sydney. A dear friend of mine graduated from Macquarie in the mid 90’s. My niece is currently studying at Macquarie!
        If I ever do a laksa recipe, I’ll let you know. I just make it up as I go along!

  7. Lovely, Somer! Shame you can’t get hold of those other ingredients – but fantastic improvisation :D

    • Thanks Nick. I’m sure if you had access galangal, lemongrass and so forth you could figure out the how to add them in nicely. I have to say the result wasn’t disappointing though. :)

  8. Oh girl! This looks luscious!! Can’t wait to get home and make it!

    PS I have a big lemongrass plant at home (probably dead now…) Very easy to grow – loves heat and moisture – bring it into the house in the winter. Then you always have fresh lemongrass…

    • Jealous as a snake. You know I have a black thumb of death and can’t grow anything. Sigh. Maybe it’s worth an effort. All that garden talk and excitement over lunch dissipated when I remembered I can’t keep anything alive.

  9. Creamy beautiful lovely – I have got to try making this! :-)

  10. I can so totally make this with staples from my pantry and fridge! This post has haunted me since this morning when it landed in my inbox. Laksa mee was a regular dish I ate in Malaysia at roadside kedai makan (food stalls). I still crave it as if it was yesterday, only it’s been more than 15 years. I get this at a Thai restaurant nearby, but if I can make it at home…

    Have I told you today how much I love you? And if this dish comes out HALF as good as it looks, I may just have to marry you (hope the hubbies don’t mind). Seriously, girl. This is even better than nut cheese. I kid not.

    • I am dying. Literally wanting to laugh and roll on the floor. How perfect for you. We’re going to have to enter Laksa Lovers Anonymous. Seriously the best soup on the planet.

      I love you right back and I will marry you despite what our husbands think. (Did I tell you I’m a Mormon, is that reverse polygamy?!?) ;) HAHA!

      • HAHA! Reverse polygamy. I like that!! Well, laksa — anything with coconut or curry, really — is my comfort food. Can’t get enough of it. Especially if you throw in fresh greens and homemade tofu ( Dee LISH.

      • You know, Somer? This post isn’t showing up in my reader (either one, the iPad WP app or the builtin reader), but I’m getting email. Not sure why.

        Don’t worry. It’s bookmarked in like three places! I’ll never lose this one. Making it for lunch today.

      • Just ate it for lunch. Another hit for 3 of 4 dirty kids (sorry, the oldest one is not a fan of coconut)! It will fit the bill for me too. Looking forward to making it for a non-vegan. You rock, Somer. :)

    • No kidding! I had great Malaysian food tonight from a new place in Seattle called Kedai Makan–how fun to serendipitiously learn what it means! And Somer, this looks amazing–I love the cashew-and-coconut combo, that must be so creamy!

      • That’s awesome, Emmycooks! And their greeting phrase like our “hey, how are you” is “sudah makan” or literally “eaten already?” All about the food there!! And it is delicious.

        And she’s right…can’t do with anything but FULL FAT coconut milk. That’s the creaminess. I still can’t believe that we’re near the 4th largest city in the US and don’t have a Malaysian restaurant. We used to, but they closed down for lack of business. Broke my heart!

  11. Wow, this looks absolutely fabulous!

  12. nice post. I love soups and stews

  13. i love recreations with easily available ingredients! i dint eat much laksa before.. but i am in for this vegan version! perfect for this cold rainy weather.. last year we had 298 days of rain and grey.. gaah.

  14. That looks so delicious, rich and indulgent! Another must make!! Yum!

  15. I totally agree this is a must for anyone who wants to their tastebuds to be dazzled with the great flavours of Laksa. Malaysian food has many external influences and when I go there this is a soup that I always look to eating on my first evening :) thanks for the post…

  16. A fabulous & wonderful fragrant vegan laksa, Somer! I love your version way better! :) Yummm! That last picture is a very cool shot!!! x

  17. I made this the other night and it was great! Wonderful recipe…. I used rice noodles and millet instead of the yellow noodles, added celery, kale and leeks to the veggies, and broiled tempeh instead of tofu, and cilantro as a garnish – we all loved it!

  18. Holy crap that looks amazing! You had me at full fat coconut milk, but the rest of the list is a winner. Thanks so much for sharing. Perfect for winter blahs.

  19. I’ve never even heard of Laksa, but it looks delicious and totally perfect for this time of year!

  20. Liz

    This is probably my favourite recipe of all time. So easy and delicious – thank you!

  21. Pingback: Vegan Fast: Week Five | Ponyboy's Two Cents!!

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