Laksa Pesto

    2 bunches of laksa leaves (about 2 large handfuls of the plucked leaves)
    1 tsp sesame oil
    1 tsp fish sauce
    1 tsp maggi seasoning
    1 tsp light soya sauce
    sea salt & cracked black pepper
    3 tbsp of XO sauce, or 3 large mild chillies, seeds removed if you want the heat milder
    extra virgin olive oil
    1 bulb of garlic, intact
    16 prawns
    12 quails eggs
    chilli powder
    half a cup of white wine/chicken stock
    2 quantities of pasta
  1. Slice off about 2mm from the top of the garlic bulb, drizzle with a bit of olive oil (not extra virgin), and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Scatter a pinch of salt and pepper, then bake for 40min in an oven preheated to 150°C. When baked, remove from oven, leave to cool then set aside.
  2. Pick the laksa leaves and blitz them in a food processor or very finely chop. Pick out any long stringy bits, and blitz again. Squeeze the soft, caramelized garlic flesh out of the bulb into the food processor (you might want to roughly mash it a bit first), and blitz again.
  3. Chop the red chillies roughly, add to the food processor and blitz again.
    Scrape all the green stuff out of the food processor and place it in a bowl big enough to toss all the (cooked) pasta in. Add the soya sauce, fish sauce, sesame oil, maggi seasoning, and a dash of pepper. Mix well. Add in enough extra virgin olive oil to loosen the mixture, but you don't want it to be swimming in oil (roughly ¼ cup? add half the amount first and slowly add till you think you've got enough). Mix well again with a fork or whisk, and set aside.
  4. (Steps 1 to 4 can be done in advance. Just keep the pesto covered and in a cool place - try not to do it too early in advance as you'll have to refrigerate it and the oil will become gross.)
  5. Prepare the pasta as per this recipe. Hang the noodles on a rack like in the picture, or twist into bunches (gently) and cover on a tray with a damp towel.
    Peel and devein prawns, then heat up the butter and a small splash of oil (to temper it) in a saucepan. Add the prawns in, and sauté gently until half pink (they shouldn't be fully cooked yet). Season with salt and pepper, then add in the white wine, and cook on low heat until the wine has evaporated. Set aside.
  6. Place the quails eggs in a saucepan, and cover with cold water until it covers them by 1cm. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and plunge into an ice bath to arrest the cooking. Peel, and set aside.
  7. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain the pasta in a colander, reserving some of the cooking water, and place the noodles in the bowl with the pesto. Add the prawns in. Toss to make sure each noodle is coated in the pesto, and then divide evenly among 4 serving places.
  8. Slice each quails egg in half, arrange around the pasta, and garnish with a sprinkle of chilli powder.


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