Weekend Herb Blogging
I'm new to this whole food blogging thing and recently signed up at Food Blogger S'cool where I came across Weekend Herb Blogging hosted by Kalyn's Kitchen. I figured I'd take part, if anything to make some new food blogger friends. (If anyone has any advice or comments for a newbie, please post them here or email me!)
It was opportune since two weeks ago, I was forced to send my basil and lemon balm plants to the grave because they were hopelessly infested by white flies. I mourned a little -- it was my first ever attempt at growing herbs, and how they thrived! Damm those white flies!
A week later, feeling brave, I went to the hardware store and picked up a couple of seeds. I chose mint because it's really, really hard to buy beautiful mint from the supermarkets or markets here. They are usually wilted with blackened leaves -- so not ideal for garnishing or crushing into drinks. The only place I've ever come across really clean, fresh mint stalks was at Tekka Market, which is a bit of a journey from where I live. Hence, a pack of mint seeds went into my shopping bag. The other was a pack of coriander seeds - because well, coriander goes with everything... in Asian cooking at least. And, as I recently discovered, coriander root is the secret ingredient in some of the best Asian dishes. I've posted an easy laksa-based recipe, which features coriander root and mint leaves at the bottom of this post, adapted from Nigel Slater's Appetite. It is a spicy, rich and comforting, treat on cold days like today.
I can't begin to tell you how excited I was when five days from when I first planted them, the seeds began to sprout. Now, two weeks have passed and they are fuzzy little baby leaves with so much potential. The picture at the top is of my mint, and here's a picture of my fast-growing coriander.
Heartened by the experience, I decided to get another basil plant -- they grow up quick and they taste yum. I bought a small plant from the supermarket and then transplanted it. Alas, basil and the sun are great friends and this being the end of the year, the sun has been rather elusive of late. And my new basil plant is all the weaker for it.
I'm trying to talk it out of its misery and feed it lots of water, but if the sun doesn't come out soon, I'm not sure it will last.
SOMETHING LIKE LAKSA
For the spice paste:
4 to 5 hot red chillies
3 cloves garlic, peeled
thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and shred
3 lemon grass stems (the tender, innermost leaves), sliced
a few coriander seeds, ground or crushed
a handful of coriander leaves and their roots, scrubbed of dirt
1 tsp ground tumeric
For the soup:
2 cups chicken stock
1.75 cups coconut milk
the juice of 1 lime
Thai fish sauce
a handful of mint leaves
Noodles - egg or rice (chor bee hoon) noodles
Crabmeat and prawns (or chicken, or whatever you fancy, really)
Throw all the ingredients for the spice paste (except the vegetable oil) into a food processor and blitz. Add the vegetable oil a little at a time to help this mixture go around and turn into a dry paste.
In a fairly deep pan, over moderate heat, add the spice paste and fry, moving it around the pan for a minute or so, then pour in the stock and coconut milk and let it come to a boil. Turn the heat down and let the soup simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the noodles briefly in boiling water and drain.
Pop the crabmeat and prawns (or whatever meat you've chosen) into the soup. Let them cook quickly. Season with lime juice, salt, a dash of fish sauce and some mint leaves. Divide the noodles into bowls and serve.