GCC: Butternut Rice Laksa Soup

This weeks Gutsy Cook selection was hard for me.  Especially since I was the one that picked all four choices.  And my pickings were based in how interesting they all sounded and the unusual way they were in using this month ingredient – Rice.

We had Horchata, which you all know I had in my kitchen bucket list for a while now.  Then a Persian recipe called Adas Polo, which appeal to my love of lentils. We had an Indian twist with the Rice Flour pancakes know as Kalappam which is the usual side dish to non-vegetarian curries.  And finally we had a twist to an Indonesian dish from the Peranakan culture – a Pumpkin Rice Laksa Soup.

I wanted to make all four of them.  But faith stepped in and gave us beautiful chilly weather this past weekend here in Florida.  Our temperatures dipped into the 50’s, which called for lots snuggling, lazy TV watching which just comfort food.  So the soup won this hands down.

Let’s start with a little classroom knowledge.

Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup from Peranakan culture also known as Baba and Nyonya, which is a merger of Chinese and Malay elements found in Malaysia and Singapore. There are two basic types of laksa: curry laksa and asam laksa. Curry laksa is a coconut curry soup with noodles, while asam laksa is a sour fish soup with noodles.

Jamie Oliver has taken this dish and elevated by a flavorful combination of coconut milk, cumin, five spice, chilies, rice and pumpkin to name a few.

Sounds good so far right?

It gets better.

I did not stray far from this one.  The only ingredients switcheroo’s were the squash -  I used butternut, because its my favorite and I don’t care much for pumpkin.  I also substituted the five spice with garam masala, because I thought I had five spice in my cabinet and SURPRISE – I did not the same thing happen with the basmati rice, which I replaced with jasmine instead. And finally, I could not find the lime leaves (kaffir lime leaves), so I used lime zest instead.

The recipe was simple, came together fast and once more I gave thanks to my gut instinct when Tom and I ate our first spoonful of this AWESOME soup.

Yes, folks, its that AWESOME that I have to use CAPS to make sure the point come across loud and clear.

And what point is that? Well take a look again as how good it looks.

Now multiply that by 100 in the taste-a-meter and the only thing for you to do is to RUN and MAKE THIS NOW.

The flavors are a marriage made in heaven.  The play of the ginger, lemongrass, cilantro, with the spiciness of the chili pepper played so well together with the creaminess and sweetness of the butternut squash and coconut milk.  The rice gave it that sort of crunchy balance.

It was so good, that we each had three bowls.  And here I thought that the 6 serving was going to be too much for only the two of us.

This recipe is going to my personal cookbook, because it’s a total keeper.  Next time I’m going to make it and use the shell of acorn squash to give it a total presentation wow factor. 

Have I helped salivate your taste buds yet? Of course I have, so your next step is to grab the recipe

Other tips/tricks/observations: 

  • I have written about this before, but I’m totally addicted to these products, and in this recipe they totally come in handy to make your life easier.  I used their Chili Pepper, Lemongrass, Ginger and Chunky Garlic selection.  Which save me the two steps – the pealing and then the smashing.
  • When I notice the rice soaking up the first liquid (in this case the chicken stock), I poured one of the coconut milk cans, because my rice was not done at this point, once done, I poured the second one, as the recipe called for.  Also, while it seems like a lot of coconut milk, its not, its just the right amount to make it just the right consistency.
  • Instead of chicken stock, switch to Vegetable stock and this becomes a AWESOME vegetarian dish.
  • I took Mr. Oliver suggestions and gave it a splash of limejuice at the end which gave it that little ‘twang.  Don’t skip this step, that final splash makes all the difference. 

As always, take a look at what the other Gutsy Cooks whipped up in their kitchen this week.