6 months ago I watched my father take his last breath. I’ve written, deleted and rewritten this post so many times, I’m not the kind of person to express my feelings.
Somehow this has been the longest yet shortest 6 months of my life. When you have a love so big that is suddenly gone there is going to be even bigger grieving. Only days later you’re expected to wander back into the world where everything looks the same and nobody has any idea that you are drowning in sadness and struggling to breathe.
Grief can’t be pushed down forever, it’s there and it needs to come out. There’ll be days where you’re going to break down and you’re crying so hard you throw up. Or you see a father and daughter out for lunch and pain rips through your chest so hard you think you’re having a heart attack. You will feel lonely, very fucking lonely. Even when you’re laying in bed with your partner and his holding you so tight, while you’re gasping for air, you’ll feel lonely. I feel guilty every day because I can’t come to the terms with the fact he was actually dying, even after the doctor told me, even after I had to tell my sister. I still didn’t believe it.
It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that your father is never going to watch you get married, or meet your children. Especially when you know that’s all he ever wanted, instead, my father will live on through stories I tell people like the time he came over to cook Laksa.
It was a cold Winter’s day, I’m sitting by the fire when I hear ACDC blaring down the street. I knew who it was, Dad always turned up everywhere like that. He would sit in the car tapping his feet and bobbing his head until the song finished. He eventually comes inside and says he’s going to make Laksa.
Hell yeah, you are Daddio!
Dad goes to the kitchen and starts to make his Laksa after he comes back into the lounge room and begins to talk shit, he always talked shit and would get really, really engrossed in it. So whilst his mid firing everybody up, I give the simmering pot of Laksa a little taste test because I can never leave anything alone.
I decided it needed more shrimp paste and have the brilliant idea to add some! Should’ve been added into the paste but surely a teaspoon wouldn’t hurt being added now? All high and mighty I begin to add in the shrimp paste, and then 3/4 of the bottle falls in!!! 3/4 of the whole damn bottle!
My father can not know what I have just done, I would never hear the end of it. I started running around the kitchen like a madwoman adding more coconut milk, chopping chilli faster than I ever had and chucking them in. His 2ft away from me and hasn’t noticed yet because he’s so engrossed in whatever tale he’s telling. Eventually, the Laksa starts to taste normal again and I return to the lounge room pretending like nothing has happened.
It may sound and look like a lot of work to make the paste but trust me it is so worth it and once you’ve diced everything up it takes seconds to come together. Homemade laksa paste is vibrant, fresh and soo much better than store bought.
The soup base which is vibrant, slightly spicy, bursting with aromatics and laced with soothing coconut milk is then loaded with fresh prawns, fish balls, poached chicken breast and bean curd puffs. Truly a meat lovers heaven.
The soup is then spooned over Hokkien noodles and Rice Vermicelli for a contrast in textures. Add some fresh bean sprouts and extra lime wedges and everyone will be happily slurping away.
- 6 garlic cloves, diced
- 4 asian shallots, diced
- 4 red chilli's, diced
- 2 lemongrass stalks, diced
- 1 brown onion, diced
- 5 candlenuts or 10 cashews
- 1 tbsp galangal, diced
- 6 dried chilli's
- 2 tbsp dried shrimps
- 1 tbsp shrimp paste
- 2 tsp dried coriander
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 12 raw prawns, shells removed and kept
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 400ml can of coconut milk
- 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
- bean curd puffs
- 12 fish balls
- fish sauce and limes to season
- 1 packet hokkien noodles, cooked according to packet directions
- 1 packet rice vermicelli, cooked according to packet directions
- poached chicken breast
Soak the dried chillies and dried shrimp in separate bowls of boiling water for 10 minutes. Drain and add to a grinder/food processor along with all the other paste ingredients and grind until a smooth paste is formed.
Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat, add the reserved prawn shells and stir until they turn red. Remove and add in the laksa paste, stir-fry for 2-3 minutes until aromatic.
Add in the chicken stock and sugar, bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer and add in the coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. Simmer for 10 minutes before adding fish balls, prawns and bean curd puffs. Season with fish sauce and lime, cook for 5 minutes until prawns are cooked through, and fish balls are heated.
To serve divide noodles among serving bowls, spoon over laksa making sure everybody gets a bit of everything. Serve with bean sprouts and poached chicken on top and extra limes on the side.
Check out the video here!