1kg Jap pumpkin
6 red chillies
2 tbsp (40ml) peanut oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
250g vine-ripened small truss tomatoes slightly bigger than cherry tomatoes
100g dried or 200g fresh rice noodles
1 stalk lemon grass, white only,
1/3 cup laksa paste
2 cups (500ml) vegetable or chicken stock
400ml coconut milk
200g tofu puffs, or firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 lime, juice only
1 tbsp fish sauce or to taste
1 bunch mint, leaves picked
2 cups bean shoots, trimmed
1 telegraph cucumber, halved lengthways, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. (170°C fan-forced). Peel and deseed the pumpkin and cut into 2cm cubes. You will have about 860g pumpkin.
2. Place pumpkin on a baking paper-lined baking tray and toss with 2 finely chopped chillies, 1 tablespoon oil, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes or until just tender. Add tomatoes to pumpkin and roast, uncovered, for a further 8-10 minutes or until tomatoes start to soften.
3. Place noodles in a bowl and cover with boiling water.
4. Place remaining oil in a large, non-stick frypan over medium-high heat. Stir-fry lemon grass and laksa paste until aromatic. Add stock and coconut milk and mix to combine. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2–3 minutes. Add pumpkin and tofu, bring back to the simmer. Remove from heat, add lime juice and fish sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
5. Drain noodles and divide among 4 deep bowls, ladle over laksa, then top with tomatoes, mint and bean shoots and serve with a side dish of extra mint, bean shoots, cucumber and remaining chillies, finely sliced, to personal taste.
Lyndey’s note: tofu puffs are deep-fried cubes of tofu and can be bought in Asian stores. Otherwise substitute with firm tofu.