I don´t use a lot of ready made things - in fact, almost none, if you discount sambals, mustards and various condiments. It´s a very rare occasion that you´ll find me cooking with some sort of spice paste or jarred sauce. But recenyly I´ve been quite pleased with the spices pastes from Asian Home Gourmet. I spotted the sachets in the toko one day and immediately noticed the line that said "No added MSG, Preservatives or Artificial Colours". And sure enough, if you read the ingredients list for this Laksa Coconut Curry Noodles paste, it reads like an actual recipe that someone could make in a home kitchen, instead of some concoction that could only be engineered in a factory: galangal, shallots, oil, sugar, salt, shrimp paste, lemon grass, turmeric, dried shrimp. Nothing wrong with that is there?
So despite my usual suspicions about stuff like this, these are really useful to have in the pantry - with some meat, tofu and vegetables you can have a nice dinner on the table in 15 minutes. I know I sound like a AHG commercial.. sorry about that.
My soup looks very different from the one on the package though. It had chicken, Chinese leaf cabbage, a handful of green beans, spring onions, Chinese chives, chicken stock and coconut milk. Flavorwise, it needed nothing more than a splash of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime juice. A perfect balcony dinner.