Cheat's khao soi with herbs and charred pineapple

Thai times two: Larb meets khao soi.
Thai times two: Larb meets khao soi. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Dietary
Dairy-free

This is far from the original, lightening the load somewhat with the addition of a larb-style chicken mince rather than the traditional whole pieces of chicken. We've also upped the green quotient but rest assured the undeniable coconutty, curried flavour and fried noodle crunch is very much still in play.

Ingredients

800g Chinese-style fresh egg noodles

150ml coconut oil

800ml coconut milk

4-6 tbsp laksa paste (or to taste)

250ml chicken or vegetable stock

Chicken mince

250g organic chicken mince

50g toasted rice*, ground

4-5 thin slices galangal (or ginger, at a push, but you'll miss galangal's peppery flavour)

2 kaffir lime leaves, coarsely torn

1 lemongrass stalk, bruised and thinly sliced

60ml chicken stock

1 tbsp palm sugar

1½ tbsp fish sauce

60ml lime juice

8 cos lettuce leaves

Charred pineapple

1 tbsp crushed light palm sugar

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp lime juice

1 small pineapple, skin on, cored and cut lengthways into 10cm-thick wedges

To serve

lime wedges, fresh coriander, mint leaves

Method

Place the cooking oil into a large pan or wok and place over high heat. Fry 100g of the Chinese noodles in batches until browned and crisp. Remove from the wok and transfer to a plate lined with paper towel. Set aside.

Remove all but a tablespoon or two of the oil from the pan and add 100ml of the coconut milk. Cook on high heat until it bubbles and begins to split, and the oil starts to smoke. Add the laksa paste and cook, stirring constantly, for another minute until fragrant and combined with the coconut milk. Add the rest of the coconut milk in a slow but steady stream, stirring constantly. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to barely simmering and cook for 30 to 40 minutes.

While the coconut is simmering, prepare the pineapple. Pound the sugar and fish sauce in a mortar and pestle, stir in lime juice and transfer to a large bowl. Add pineapple, stir to coat and set aside to marinate (30 minutes).

For the chicken, add the galangal, lime leaves and lemongrass to a frying panand cook over medium heat, keeping it moving until evenly golden brown and fragrant. Add the stock and bring to a soft boil, add the chicken mince and work quickly, moving the chicken so it cooks evenly and is thoroughly cooked through (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a bowl, and while still warm, add 1 tablespoon of the ground rice. Stir and toss to distribute evenly through the chicken mixture. Add palm sugar, fish sauce and lime juice to taste.

Heat a barbecue or grill to high. Drain marinated pineapple and grill, turning occasionally, until golden and tender (5 to 6 minutes).

Meanwhile, cook the remaining 700g of Chinese noodles in boiling water for a few minutes. Strain and divide between bowls. Pour the soup into the bowls and top with the crispy noodles. Garnish with two cos lettuce leaves and a few spoonfuls of mince per serve, plus the herbs and lime. Add a wedge of pineapple to each bowl and serve.

*Toasted rice is available from Asian supermarkets. To make your own, toast 2 to 4 tablespoons of jasmine rice over high heat in a nonstick frypan until golden. Coarsely grind using a mortar and pestle.

More laksa recipes