It seems we have started gently leaving the blistering heat of summer behind us and are slowly migrating into the autumn months. Durban autumns are not as harsh as the fall in the Northern hemisphere yet the craving for comfort food still becomes ever-present without the need for the heaviness of wintery dishes. Former Group Pastry Chef for celebrity chef Bill Granger’s Granger & Co restaurants across London, Isla Rechner, is back in Kloof and cooking up a storm. She shares the recipes to one of her favourite dishes, a Malaysian Laksa.
‘Meat-centric dinners are something many households are moving away from. A Malaysian laksa is always my go-to for a quick and satisfying midweek dish. This dish is 98% vegetarian but the addition of fish sauce to balance out the saltiness makes it more Pescatarian. If you would like to make it purely vegan/vegetarian replace the fish sauce with salt to taste.
Butternut and Spinach Laksa
1 small onion, diced
4 garlic cloves
2 lemon grass stalks, outer stalks removed and chopped
30g fresh ginger, chopped
10g fresh coriander stalks
Zest and juice of 1 lime
30ml grapeseed oil
8g chilli flakes
4g ground turmeric
4g coriander seeds, roasted and crushed
6g cumin seeds, roasted and crushed
4g ground paprika
750ml vegetable stock
1 400ml tin coconut milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce (or salt to taste)
Juice of 1 lime
500g butternut, chopped into big chunks and roasted
200g Swiss chard
200g rice vermicelli noodles
Sliced fresh red chillies
Sliced spring onions
• Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
• Toss butternut in a bit of oil and seasoning, roast until cooked through
• Then get on to making your laksa paste. Using a food processor or a blender, place all laksa paste ingredients and blend until smooth.
• Place a medium-sized pot on the heat. Add a little oil and add the laksa paste
• Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until wonderfully fragrant.
• Add vegetable stock, followed by coconut milk, brown sugar and fish sauce
• Taste and adjust accordingly to your palate
• Finish off with the juice of one lime
• Place vermicelli noodles in a large bowl and pour boiling hot water over them. Leave for two minutes, then strain.
• In a frying pan, wilt down Swiss chard
• Now onto your plating. Take out four bowls, divide vermicelli noodles, swiss chard and butternut equally. Ladle broth over and garnish with spring onions, chillies and coriander