Laksa Tjina (Indonesian – Chinese)
This is laksa tjina (or Chinese noodle soup). It reminds of the soup I ate in Borneo. A few years ago we travelled through South East Asia. We especially liked the city Kucing (Malaysia) on Borneo; extremely tropical, in the middle of rain forrest. Kucing is famous for its delicious Laksa; a noodle soup with coconut milk and shrimps. Going through old pictures today, I developed a huge appetite for this particular soup. And guess what: Beb has a Laksa recipe in her book. Nice, I’m trying it right away!
Laksa Tjina #517 translated from Beb Vuyk Groot Indonesisch kookboek, page 413.
1 fat chicken about 1 kg
100 grams of laksa (noodles)
l/8 block of santen (coconut cream)
3 dl bouillon
100 grams of shrimps
4 hard-boiled eggs
3 tablespoons of sliced leek
the juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped onion
2 chopped cloves of garlic
2 salam leaves (Asian bay leaf)
3 slices of ginger root
2 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon of turmeric
2 juruk purut leaves (kaffir lime leaves)
1 teaspoon of terasi (trassi or shrimp paste)
1 lemongrass stalk
1 tablespoon of chopped chives
1 tablespoon of chopped celery
Put the chicken in boiling water with the lemongrass, the kaffir and salam leaves and the salt. Simmer until it’s half way done. Rub onions, garlic and ginger into a paste with the coriander, cumin, turmeric, terasi (shrimp paste), salt and pepper. Soak the laksa.
Sauté the herb paste until the onions are yellow. Cut the chicken into pieces and add them. Add the broth, the sliced leeks, the shrimps, the block of santen (coconut cream) and the laksa.
Let the dish simmer for 15 minutes and finish it with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce and the lemon juice. Serve with rice. Laksa tjina (tjina means Chinese) is an example of a dish where Chinese and Indonesian ingredients are assimilated in a new way.
Laksa needs a lot of ingredients. I replace the chicken with pork chops and santen (coconut cream) with plain canned coconut milk. I have some pork chops left from yesterday’s dinner. I’ve eaten laksa with pork before, enak!
My chops do not need long in the broth. I put the water on and bring it to the boil. Now the meat goes in for about 8 minutes.
The leaves can go in: kaffir lime and salam. I buy both at my Asian food store. I add the ginger to the broth as well. Beb rubs it fine in her mortar. If you want to rub it, start by chopping up the ginger really fine before rubbing it in the cobek. I add my fresh ginger directly into the soup. Easy ;-).
I rub my onions, garlic, trassi (shrimp paste) and powdered herbs into a nice paste.
It turns golden yellow because of the kunjit (turmeric). I use enough salt at least 4 teaspoons. But make sure you taste your soup before serving, it may need more.
The meat is done quickly. After 8 minutes cooking I get my chops out and cut them into cubes.
I sauté the herb paste in hot oil. Now the meat can go in and after a minute or two I add the coconut milk and some of the broth. When this is well mixed I pour in the rest of the bouillon.
Meanwhile, I pour boiling hot water on my dried noodles. I use thick egg noodles for my laksa. After a few minutes the noodles are tender.
Meanwhile, my soup is simmering gently for a few minutes. Now I finish it with the sweet soy sauce (kecap manis), the leek and the chives.
I add the lemon juice and let it simmer for another minute or two.
Just before serving the drained laksa can go in. I use a pasta spoon to add the slippery noodles to the soup.
I add the shrimp at the very end because they are already cooked. I garnish with some fresh celery and chives. I also make a poached egg. I think the creamy yolk goes well with the coconut broth.
I love this soup. I have some fresh sambal (chilli salsa) in the freezer. I love laksa spicy. You can eat it with rice, like Beb suggests. But I think the noodles are enough to make this a great healthy dinner or elaborate lunch. Great for warm summer evenings.
Beb Vuyk, best known for her Groot Indonesisch Kookboek (Great Indonesian Cook Book), was much more than a great cook. She belongs to the most important Dutch-Indonesian (Indo) writers and journalists of her time. Check this out.