Pesto Variations: Laksa

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Today’s instalment in Pesto Variations is inspired by the many laksa pesto dishes I’ve tried at various places around Singapore, some decent and some utterly FAIL.

By the way, laksa is also known as daun kesom and Vietnamese mint.

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If you look more closely at pesto and laksa, you’ll find that laksa is remarkably easy to adapt to a pesto style. Both have some kind of root aromatic, herb and nut. Pesto: garlic, basil, pine nut vs laksa: shallot, laksa leaves, candle nut. The remaining ingredient in pesto is cheese, which adds umami to complete the flavour profile. For laksa, dried shrimp and belachan do the trick. I’ve used only belachan in this recipe, you could add or substitute dried shrimp.

Ingredients:

½ tbsp belachan
½ tsp salt
2 cloves garlic
2 good handfuls laksa leaves
2 red or green chillis, or to taste
½ tbsp sunflower oil
linguine
handful cashew nuts
1 cake tau kwa, cut into small rectangles

Method:

  1. Toast the belachan in a pan until smoky.
  2. Combine belachan, salt, garlic, laksa leaves and chilli in a food processor and pulse till smooth, adding the oil after a few pulses to help the mixture along. You should get a fine-ish paste. The pesto is done.
  3. Cook the linguine to taste.
  4. Toast the cashews in a hot pan and roughly chop once cool enough to handle.
  5. Sear the tau kwa on all sides in the same hot pan.
  6. When the pasta is done, toss it in the pesto, adding a drop or two more oil or cooking liquid to loosen. Top with cashews and tau kwa.

Serves 2.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, the picture and recipe have been previously posted on my now-defunct OSF.com account.

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