I was inspired to add this recipe as a friend of mine loves Wagamama’s vegan Yasai Samla, which is a take on a Cambodian classic soup. Yasai is a Japanese word meaning vegetables, and so this is a veganised version of a dish usually made with chicken in a thin coconutty broth and different vegetables.
I’ve made this so that it features heavy citrus notes from lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, with a thick broth thanks to the peanut powder (not at all traditional, so you can drop this if you’re allergic or don’t like peanut). If you cannot get fresh or frozen lime leaves, then use extra lemongrass and some lime zest. Use extra (light) coconut milk to make a thinner broth too.
I cannot promise that this will taste like the famous restaurant version, but is close enough for you to want to try again and again. If you have a good blender, such as a Vitamix or any high powered blender, this recipe takes no time at all to make.
You could sit on the door step with a pestal and mortal to pulp the spices into a paste, but chilli and lime leaves are tough and extremely tricky to grind down and you’ll be sat there for weeks on end trying to get them to paste down.
I didn’t want to add water to the paste because that dilutes the flavour, so I added tomatoes until I got the consistency I was looking for. Samla does not have tomatoes in it, but they do impart an umami flavour that helps substitute the missing umami from fish sauce. You can also use rice wine vinegar
If you wanted to, you could reserve some of the peanuts to chop up and garnish the dish before serving.
The paste can also be frozen if you wish to make it in bulk and batch up for quick cooking midweek! Most of my curry pastes are totally freezable, and should last in the freezer for up to three months before the flavour starts to degrade.
- 5-6 cm fresh turmeric
- 4 cloves garlic
- 5-6 cm fresh root ginger
- 5-6 cm galangal
- 4 birds eye chilli red (deseeded for less heat)
- 2 stalks lemongrass
- 2 medium tomatoes or 1tbsp tomato puree
- 10-12 kaffir lime leaves destalked
- 1 tbsp palm sugar
- 2-3 Asian shallots or 1 small red onion
- Vegetables of choice
- 250 g tofu block fried or roasted until golden
- 2 tbsp vegan fish sauce use light soya sauce as an alternative
- 400 ml Coconut milk
- 85 g Peanuts
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- Sprig of coriander cilantro
- Wedge of lime
Lightly toast the peanuts either by roasting in the oven or frying with a small amount of oil until golden brown, set aside
Make the paste by blitzing all the paste ingredients together until a smooth paste is formed. You should not be able to see any lumps from the spices, it should be as smooth as thick cream
Blitz the peanuts into a powder.
Lightly fry the paste into a little hot oil for a minute or two, and then add the coconut milk, vegetables, peanut powder and stir.
Cook until the vegetables are tender and add the alternative fish sauce and squeeze of lime juice, taste for adjustments
Serve with jasmine rice and a scattering of coriander leaves
Seb is a nutritionist registered with the Association for Nutrition and a writer specialising in plant-based nutrition and men’s health. He graduated from Chester University with a masters degree in human nutrition and loves discovering new and vibrant plant-based recipes.