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If you would like to make the vegan version, replace the shrimp paste with 1 tablespoon of miso paste and 1 tablespoon of tomato purée, and use vegetable instead of chicken stock. Go wild with your imagination in terms of vegan toppings – at the restaurant we char thin slices of aubergine and small florets of broccoli in the oven before lightly salting them.
If you can find them, laksa leaves (ask for rau ram or hot mint in Vietnamese supermarkets) add a distinctive fragrance to the dish and take me back to my childhood.