Following a Low FODMAP diet doesn’t have to be boring or tasteless just because onion and garlic are out of the question! Having cut those two things out I’ve had a flavour revelation in my life in that I now get to eat lots of yummy things but not worry about horrific pain afterwards. It took me so long to work out that these were a problem for me because they are in near literally every dish I was making!
I’ve always loved food from south east Asia but since marrying my wife, who is half Malaysian, I’ve started to make more and more dishes inspired by their regional cuisines. These dishes are amazingly easy to adapt because they still taste great without the allium vegetables that carry a lot of western recipes.
Laksa is one of the most popular dishes in the Peranakan (also known as Nonya) staple. The Peranakans were descendants of early chinese migrants who settled in parts of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, inter-marrying with local Malay people to create a culture that combines the two societies. Nonya, an old Malay term of respect and affection for a woman of prominent social standing, is often used to refer to the cuisine of the Peranakans.
Nonya food blends Chinese ingredients with the distinct spices and cooking techniques traditionally part of the Malay community. The food is tangy, aromatic, spicy and herbal. Laksa is all of these things being a spicy rice noodle soup based on either rich coconut milk or sour asam/tamarind with chicken, prawns or fish.
My one issue with nonya cuisine is that it can be too sweet (and for someone who can’t have sugar that’s quite an issue!) but I’ve made this dish diabetes friendly by using unsweetened sauces and a stevia based brown sugar replacement from Sukrin. This chicken laksa took a bit of experimenting to get right but it’s now such an easy go to dish I make it every other week!
For the paste:
2 tbsp oil
2 red chillies, de-seeded
1 inch ginger, roughly chopped
2 stalks lemon grass (or 1 tsp lemon grass paste)
2 teaspoons unsweetened peanut butter
400ml coconut water
For the filling:
8 chicken drumsticks (or a mix of thigh and drumsticks)
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp tamarind paste (or the juice of a lime)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Sukrin brown sugar replacement
large handful of beansprouts
1 red pepper cut into strips
dried rice noodles for 4
green tops of 4 spring onions
small handful of coriander and mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges.
- Skin the chicken and lay salted skin on a rack in a baking tray ready to go in the oven later. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
- Blend the laksa paste ingredients in a small food processor until smooth
- Put chicken skin in oven for 45 minutes.
- Warm a large, heavy based pan on a medium heat and gently fry the paste for 1-2 mins.
- Add coconut milk, water, chicken, fish sauce, tamarind/lime juice, turmeric and brown sugar.
- Bring to the boil then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Once chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, add the beansprouts and red pepper. Cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Follow the cooking instructions for your rice noodles.
- Divide rice noodles between 4 bowls and ladle in laksa. Top with the chicken skin, sliced spring onions, coriander and mint leaves and wedges of lime.
By far the best way to keep fresh ginger is to buy it in bulk and freeze it. You can chop it into 1inch portions before doing this but I tend to freeze it whole because that makes it easy to grate. The best way to chop it when frozen is to use a breadknife… just don’t try to do so whilst taking a photograph because you will drop something and it may or may not be your very expensive camera that you will then panic about for a while. Deep breath though; it was fine and I learnt my lesson. Ish.
I personally don’t get on well with sugar, we have a long-standing beef, but if you do then by all means use sweetened peanut butter. I don’t think the recipe calls for it but the unsweetened stuff is harder to find so don’t go out of your way. Equally, whilst this version is diabetes friendly, you can use regular brown sugar if that works for you.
‘Light’ coconut milk is a con- you’re paying the same price for less coconut and more water- so just buy the regular stuff and add your own water at home.