Butternut Squash and Tamarind Laksa with Smoked Tofu
A spicy noodle soup quite popular in Southeast Asia, laksa comes in many different versions. This delicious variation features a bold sauce paired perfectly with roasted squash, tofu, and fresh herbs.
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, lightly toasted
- 2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds, lightly toasted
- 3 whole star anise, lightly toasted
- ½ cinnamon stick, lightly toasted
- ¼ cup (25 g) green chiles
- ¼ cup (40 g) garlic, peeled and chopped
- ⅓ cup (65 g) fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
- ⅓ cup (60 g) galangal, peeled and chopped
- 3 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layer removed and finely sliced
- 6 lime leaves, stemmed and chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro
- ⅔ cup (150 ml) vegetable oil
- Lightly grind toasted coriander seeds, cumin seeds, star anise, and cinnamon stick in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Place spice mixture, green chiles, garlic, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, lime leaves, cilantro, and oil in the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure the lid.
- Select the lowest setting. Start the machine, slowly increase to its highest speed, and remove the lid plug, using the tamper to press the ingredients into the blades. Blend for 1 minute. Stop the machine.
- Remove ¼ cup (60 g) for this recipe. Freeze the remainder for future use.
- Heat coconut oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add laksa paste, star anise, coriander seeds, cinnamon stick, red onion, red chili pepper, and garlic. Fry for 5 minutes, or until soft, fragrant, and starting to caramelize.
- Add lemongrass, lime leaves, ginger, turmeric, and cilantro stems. Continue to fry for 5 minutes.
- Add tamarind paste, palm sugar, and fish sauce. Cook until palm sugar has dissolved, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and 2 cups (480 ml) water. Gently simmer for 15 minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool. Discard star anise and cinnamon stick.
- Once cool enough to handle, place mixture into the Vitamix container and secure the lid. Select the lowest setting. Start the machine, slowly increase to its highest speed, and blend for 1 minute, or until smooth. Add lime juice and stir. Check seasoning and add more lime juice or fish sauce if needed, to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
- Place butternut squash on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until cooked through and beginning to caramelize. Remove from oven and set aside.
- Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add soba noodles and bring to a rapid simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, or until al dente, but keep an eye on them as pan can easily boil over. Drain and rinse under cold water.
- To serve, divide noodles among 6 bowls. Pour on piping hot laksa. Garnish with roasted butternut squash, smoked tofu, mint leaves, chili pepper, green onions, and a wedge of lime on the side. Serve immediately.