Happy holidays, guys! Hope everyone had a lovely time with their family and friends eating and opening presents. As with any holiday season, family meals usually leave you with a ton of leftovers, so I’m here to help you repurpose some of your leftovers so you don’t get bored! I actually wrote this recipe a bit ago for Thanksgiving when I made a giant turkey, so depending on whether or not you have any chicken or turkey leftovers, this recipe could be a delicious way of using some of that up.
One of my favorite noodle soups is a Malaysian dish called laksa. I’ve only discovered it recently, but ever since I had it for the first time last year when I was in NYC with my friends Tom and Gabe, it’s left quite the impression on my taste buds. We went to this hole in the wall Malaysian/Indonesian restaurant that looked a little sketch from the outside but had delicious food on the inside.
Since that moment, I occasionally get hit by a craving for the flavorful, complex broth, especially when it starts getting a little chilly in Denver. But as you know, Asian foods are not really in found in abundance in Colorado so I can’t just pop into a local restaurant to slurp up some of these curry noodles. That’s never stopped me though from satisfying my craving for certain foods! I started looking up recipes for this delicious spicy noodle soup the other month, but with the holiday season, I never found time to make any until now. Like many other noodle soups, the base of laksa uses a chicken stock, so this was the perfect opportunity to use my holiday leftovers in a new and creative way. While chicken is the classic protein for this noodle soup, turkey stock and leftover turkey make for the perfect substitute for our post-holiday leftover disposing plans! After browsing through a dozen or so recipes, I decided to use Nagi’s (RecipeTin Eats) version of curry laksa for my turkey leftover adventure.
Nagi’s recipe makes 2 large servings, which would be great on any regular day. I’m trying to get over the inevitable holiday food coma though, so I’m halving the recipe to just make 1 large serving.
Notes for this recipe! Turkey and chicken are interchangeable in this recipe, but what if you have ham? Ham might work for this recipe, so you can give it a shot if you’d like, but keep in mind that ham tends to have a bit of a smokier taste. This noodle soup works better with lighter poultry and seafood flavors, so it’s best to use chicken or turkey. When making the stock, I would recommend keeping it simple–just water, your turkey carcass/bones, and a small onion. To make the stock, you just need to put your turkey carcass in a stockpot and add enough water to cover the bones by 2 inches. Partially cover the pot with a lid and bring the pot to a simmer (not a boil!) and occasionally skim the foam that floats to the top. Simmer for 3 hours, strain to remove the bones and onion, and then you’re set to use the stock! Grab 2 cups for the laksa, then store the rest in the fridge (3-4 days) or freezer (6 months) for other uses! If you need a recipe for more specific guidance, you can check out this simple one from Chowhound here.
Lemongrass is super important for this recipe, so don’t skip it! You usually can find it in the fresh herbs section of the supermarket. If you have access to an Asian market, they usually offer the fresh stalks in the produce section. If you can’t find it fresh, they may have it in the frozen section either in stalks or chopped up. I prefer having the stalks but the pre-chopped lemongrass will work too if you can’t find the stalks. I’ve never used dried lemongrass before, so I can’t speak to how well that works. The original recipe suggests that you grate the lemongrass, but in my experience, the best way to process the lemongrass is to thinly slice the white part of the stalk, then toss it into a food processor and blitz until the pieces are finely minced. If you use a food processor, make sure you slice the stalk thinly first or you’ll end up with stringy, uneven pieces.
The original recipe uses hokkien noodles (traditional noodles used for this dish), but I just happened to have flat Chinese egg noodles in my fridge, which works just as well. You can also use thin vermicelli rice noodles (which is also traditional for this dish), but I suspect that thin pho-type noodles (rice sticks!) would work just as well.
Laksa paste is a premade paste just to make laksa broth, similar to the Thai curry pastes you’ve seen at the supermarket. I’ve seen it offered in both packets and jars, and I haven’t made it enough to make a definitive statement on which one is better. I did end up getting the jar though, just because it’s easier to store (vs the packet where it remains more open to air). If you can’t find laksa paste, there are a few recipes I’ve seen online that you could use like this simple one from Taste.au and this slightly more complex one from Serious Eats. Ideally though, you’ll be able to find the paste so you don’t have to spend hours making this dish!
More on the laksa paste! Since each company makes it slightly differently, make sure you taste as you cook and especially before you add any salt or fish sauce. You can always add more salt to something, but you can’t take salt away!
Holiday leftovers note! If you have a lot of leftover salad ingredients from holiday meals, you can use them in place of the bean sprouts. Shredded iceberg lettuce will be the best substitute, but you can also use things like shredded cabbage or raw shredded brussels sprouts. Brussels might be a bit of a stronger flavor than the other options, but it works as long as you use them raw (don’t use cooked sprouts). Plain, blanched green beans can also be a tasty addition. Most veggie items that are steamed and/or not heavily flavored/sauced can be used up as a topping here!
- 2 tsp cooking oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and microplaned
- 2 tbsp lemongrass, finely minced (white part only), reserve the green part of the stalk
- 1 bird’s eye chili, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup (87.5g) laksa paste
- 3/4 cup coconut cream (You can use the tiny 5.6oz coconut cream cans)
- 2 cups homemade turkey stock
- 1/2-1 tsp fish sauce (according to taste)
- 2 tsp sambal oelek
Noodles and Toppings:
- 1 1/3 cup wide Chinese egg noodles (110g, a full roll if you get Lucky KT Noodles)
- 1/4 cup shredded pieces of turkey
- a handful of bean sprouts
- 1/2 cup fried tofu puffs
- a few sprigs of cilantro
- lime (to taste)
- sambal oelek
- 1 boiled egg, sliced in half (optional)
- fried shallots (optional)
- Heat oil in a medium saucepot over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, sauté for 20 seconds, then add lemongrass and bird’s eye chili and saute that for about a minute until fragrant. Careful! The chilis will be spicy.
- Add laksa paste and cook for about a minute or until fragrant. Make sure to constantly stir the mix to prevent burning.
- Add turkey stock, coconut milk, 1/2 tsp fish sauce and 2 tsp of sambal and stir to combine. Throw in the green part of the lemongrass stock you set aside earlier–this will balance the creamy broth with a fresh citrusy taste. If needed, cut the lemongrass stalk into smaller pieces to fit the pot and tie them together with butcher’s twine and toss the bundle into the pot. Partially cover the pot with a lid and simmer the broth for 10 minutes.
- While your broth simmers, prepare the noodles and warm up the turkey! Bring a pot of water to a boil, and use a slotted spoon to dunk your turkey pieces into the water for 2 minutes to heat them up. Set aside once heated.
- Bring the water to a boil again and cook the egg noodles according to the packet. Put the noodles into a soup bowl and set aside.
- Back to the broth! After 10 minutes, the broth should be nice and fragrant. Use the lime and fish sauce to adjust to taste. The broth should be creamy with some saltiness with a hint of sourness. Once the flavor is to your liking, discard the lemongrass stalk.
- Add the tofu puffs to let them soak up some broth for about 3 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, and ladle the broth into the bowl of noodles. Add in the bean sprouts, turkey, boiled egg halves, cilantro, sambal, and fried shallots.
- Serve immediately and enjoy!