Sunday was the Singapore GP and for the first time I have had difficulty deciding what to cook. The cuisine of Singapore is a mixture of Malay, Chinese and Indian all cooked with their own local twist, but I struggled to find a dish that was native to Singapore (please let me know if you have a suggestion for a dish that is!). In the end I settled on cooking Laksa because it’s really popular!
Laksa is a noodle curry/soup that comes in many variations. As a fusion of Chinese and Malay styles of cooking it is a regular street food in Singapore. I decided to create my own prawn and chicken version inspired by the recipes I found on the internet.
The first thing I needed to make was my paste. For this I needed 5cm of fresh ginger, 3 shallots, 1 clove of garlic, 3 macadamia nuts, 1 red chilli, half a bunch of coriander and ¼ teaspoon of turmeric (as usual this is for 2). All this went into my mini chopper with a little water and was blitzed to form a paste. My mini chopper isn’t the best in the world and although everything came out very small, it wasn’t really paste like. I decided to try and fix this by pounding it in my pestle and mortar but this didn’t really make much of a different either.
With the paste as ready as it was ever going to be, I got on with preparing the rest of my ingredients. I defrosted my prawns and took the meat off two chicken thighs. The skin, bones and other assorted bit’s of the chicken were browned in a pan and then covered with 200ml of water to form a stock that would later go in my sauce. I then sliced up two (rather large) spring onions, fished 50g of beansprouts out of the jar (I couldn’t get fresh) and I was ready to cook.
The first thing to do was to cook my paste. It went into a thick bottomed pan with some groundnut oil and cooked gently for 10 minutes. I then drained my chicken stock and added this to the pan to create the beginnings of the sauce/soup. This was allowed to simmer for another 7-8 minutes before I added the final bit of the sauce – 200ml of coconut milk. The soup/sauce was then left on a gentle heat while I cooked everything else.
I started cooking the chicken in a pan and after a couple of minutes added the spring onions. Two more minutes and it was time for the beansprouts to go in as well. Finally, with everything else nearly done I added the prawn. While the meat and veg were cooking I also cooked my noodles. I had been unable to find rice noodles as suggested by the recipes I had found and had to settle for soya noodles, something I hadn’t used before. These cooked in a couple of minutes and looked quite gelatinous!
With everything cooked I assembled my dish. In two bowls I placed some of the noodles and then topped them with the meat and veg. The sauce/soup was then ladled on top and everything was ready.
I haven’t ever eaten Laksa so I have no idea how authentic mine tasted, however I really enjoyed it. There as a nice warm hit of chilli that was strong without being overpowering. The whole dish was fragrant and very light. The coconut made it rich and creamy and took away any harshness that could have come from the chilli or the ginger. I had my reservations about the noodles I used when I saw them cooked, but with the sauce they were delicious. This is defiantly something I would make again; I think I might try it when I have guests sometime as a lot of it can be prepared ahead and you can pull the dish together in about 5 minutes when people are ready to eat.
As for the race, well, the result was never in doubt. A shining blue and red car owned by a certain energy drinks company had blitzed the field in qualifying, and the rapidly maturing Vettel barely saw the rest of the race as he took a unchallengeable lights to flag victory. Mathematically the German had the chance of wrapping up his championship for the second year in a row at this race. But it wasn’t to be as the rest of the field conspired to make sure the contest was dragged out to at least the race in Japan.
However, like any race with twenty four high speed participants, there was plenty to keep the audience attention. Michael Schumacher, decided that he obviously preferred flying to driving that day, attempted to launch his appropriately named silver arrow off the back of the unwilling Sergie Perez in an effort, moth like, to reach the lights surrounding the track of this night race. Failing this, he merely smashed the car against the barriers. Not an overtake the old master will ever be proud off.
Lewis Hamilton, seeing red in the form of Felipe Massa’s scarlet Ferrari, then smashed off his front wing against the rear right hand tyre of the other car. Having returned to the pits to have a new nose fitted by his mechanics, he then returned once more to serve a penalty metted out by the stewards. His Maclaren, having started the day 4th, ended up in 15th and was only helped by the safety car being deployed for Schumacher’s crash landing. He recovered, slicing his way through the field, to a respectable fifth, one place down from where he started.
Jenson Button, finding the Maclaren the second quickest car in the field, drove a lonely race against Vettel whom he only saw vanishing around corners ahead of him. After holding his position at the start, tyre choice allowed him to maintain this and his consistent lap times led him to a well deserved second place, his second of two races. The pressure is now one at Maclaren for Hamilton to prove he is still their best driver.