Laksa

Dear God how I love my life! It is all so simply marvelous. I wake near every morning to perfect weather. Have breakfast, a cup of coffee or two made from local beans, then either go for a short run or spend an hour in my hammock on the roof reading a good book.

Then it’s lunch planning. And meal planning is one of the few pleasures left to me in the world to which I am good at. Yesterday I decided to have lunch out. There is a great outdoor (curb) cafe two blocks away that serves a wonderful plate of food with fresh made tortillas for 45 pesos; that’s about $2.25 US. This time I had a nice big portion of mole chicken and beans. I’ll never really understand how chicken in a chilies and chocolate sauce all work together so well but they do. And it is one of favorite flavor combos.

Lunch today – courtesy of a gift sent all the way from faraway Singapore – was laksa. I’ve never made the stuff before but I’ve had the privilege of eating it in various places like Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and even at one little restaurant in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC which I found that served the stuff.

I made a trip to the Mercado to pick up a few necessary ingredients.  I first have to say that while I’ve been on the lookout for rice noodles for weeks I have been unlucky so this recipe of mine was highly improvised.

I bought a large cabbage, some carrots and small while potatoes before heading to the butcher to buy some good fresh beef. I love this guy. He’s my age and cuts each piece of meat to order by hand. This is a proper old-school butcher shop. There is no styrofoam nor is there a single refrigerated display unit. The beef quarters all hang on big gruesome wrought iron hooks. I like that medieval ambience. It appeals to my sense of sensibility.

And the butcher actually works like he likes his job and I respect that. But more than that I can see he takes pride in delivering great beef. And I suspect he is one of a handful of purveyors in the Mercado who has heard that I am one of those customers who will never return to a place once I’ve been overcharged or otherwise taken advantage of. Hence we have a healthy, mutually respectful relationship. I watch and listen keenly as he decides what best cut of beef to offer me and then serves up a great product at a fair price quoted right down to the peso. This morning it was 93 pesos ($4.70 US) for 700 grams and change for a big, thick well marbled slab of steak.

Back at the house I got out my big pot and dumped in a  large can of coconut milk followed by 3 cans of water. The package of laksa paste suggested more of a ratio of 4:1 but hey, so what. I then added the paste, meticulously rinsing out the container so that not even a drop was lost. I cleaned and added all my vegetables and then let the pot boil for 30 minutes. During that time I fried the steak then trimmed the fat before preparing a bowl to which I added some of the sliced beef.

I ladled some of the vegetables and broth over the beef before finally tucking in. Here 3 hours later and the smell still perfumes my entire house.

This is a good life down here in Mexico. And I am grateful for each and every day.

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