Pumpkin Laksa

from Nigel Slater’s fabulous, essential cookbook: The Kitchen Diaries

Pumpkin and tomato laksa

A great long ingredient list here, but everything is available in one swoop on a Chinese supermarket.

serves 4

pumpkin – 250g unpeeled weight

small red bird’s eye chillies – 5

garlic – 4 cloves

a lump of ginger the size of your thumb

plump stalks of lemon grass – 2

lime leaves – 6

coriander roots – 5 or 6

coriander leaves – a large handful

a little vegetable oil

chicken or vegetable stock – 500ml

coconut milk – 400ml

cherry tomatoes – 24 (leave them out if they aren’t in season!)

nam pla (thai fish sauce) – 2 tbs

the juice of a lime

dried noodles – 100g

mint leaves – a large handful

Cut the pumpkin into large chunks and place in the top of a steamer. Or, steam it in a colander over a pan of boiling water. The pumpkin should be tender in 12-15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To make the spice paste, chop the chillies, removing the seeds first if you wish. Peel the garlic and the ginger and chop roughly; put into the bowl of a food processor. Discard the outer leaves of the lemon grass then roughly chop the inner heart leaves, shred the lime leaves and add them to the chillies. Scrub the coriander roots and cut them off , putting them with the chillies, along with half the coriander leaves and stems. Blitz them to a pulp, adding a little oil if the mixture needs it to go round.

Place a fairly deep pan over a moderate heat, add half the spice paste (keep the other half in the fridge for tomorrow) and fry it, moving it round the pan so it does not scorch. Do this for a minute or two then pour in the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil.

Cut the tomatoes in half, and add them with the nam pla and the lime juice. They will take seven to 10 minutes to cook. Add the chunks of pumpkin and continue cooking for a minute or two. Place a swirl of noodles in each of the four bowls, pour over the laksa and add the mint and remaining coriander leaves.