Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I have been on quite a quest to track down this meal. After 7 failed attempts at various Sainsbury’s locals I finally came up trumps on Borough High St, where it turns out, they stock all 4 meals I have now tried. If only I’d gone there first I could have saved a lot of time and a lot of whinging on these pages.
I’ve been on a steady decline with Scratch meals since I first discovered them. The Thai curry was a revelation, (feel free to check out that blog for a potted history of the Roux family tree should you care) then came the paella which was good if you like paella, but not as good as the Thai curry, next came the tikka masala which was passable but nothing special, so I was hoping the elusive laksa would reverse the downward trend. The only meal I have left to try is a tagliatelle pistachio pesto which sounds suspiciously like a vegetarian dish so I’m not in any hurry.
Scratch meals cost £3.95 which is a real bargain when you think Michel Roux Sr is involved. A plate of vegetables as a main course at his 3 star restaurant The Waterside Inn costs £50.50. This is not even a joke. Look at the website if you don’t believe me. I’ve been known to spend silly money on food in restaurants, but a plate of vegetables for £50.50 is a step too far. You could buy 12.8 Scratch meals instead, which is just shy of 2 weeks worth of food. In fact if you added 12.5% service to the veg you’d be looking at £56.80 and that would buy you 2 weeks worth of meals with a bit of change left over. Anyway I’ve gone off piste Waterside Inn veg has got nothing to do with a Scratch noodle laksa so back on topic.
As I’d come to expect, the packaging is great and the instructions clear. The laksa takes just 7 mins from packet to bowl. Stage one is heating up the laksa paste, coconut milk and kaffir lime leaf for 4 mins. The coconut milk they use is the real deal – it’s thick and creamy and required scooping out of the pot rather than pouring. Next in goes the crayfish, noodles and carrot and finally the beansprouts and a squeeze of lime and it is ready to serve.
I slurp some up and it is absolutely incredible. I would go so far as to say this is the best cook at home meal I have ever had. It is creamy and rich from the coconut milk, spicy from the laksa paste, sharp from the squeeze of lime which also adds an extra blast of freshness to the bowl. I have paid a lot more and enjoyed a lot less different versions of this dish in restaurants. The other week I made a chicken laksa myself at home, buying in a whole raft of ingredients and spending a lot longer than 7 minutes to prepare them and it wasn’t as good as this. The crayfish flavour came through and it was an inspired idea to use them instead of prawns; they are more tender, more flavourful and are one of the few creatures that we need to fish more of rather than less as they are busy destroying the ecosystem in our rivers. My only gripe really is that the there wasn’t enough crayfish in there, the portion seemed a little small, Michel can afford to be a bit more generous with his portions, especially after the profit margins on his vegetables!
I have never before found a ready meal that tastes better than restaurant or home made versions and if this is the future of them, then long live Scratch. I have never given a 10/10 for anything on this blog, and I’m not sure what it would take for me to give one, perhaps today it would have taken more crayfish as I think it falls just shy, but it is so, so good that if you see one, you must buy one. You won’t be disappointed.
Michel Roux Sr Cook from Scratch Singaporean Crayfish Noodle Laksa £3.95 for 380g (For the sake of transparency I should say that the lovely folk at Scratch sent me a voucher to pick up this meal – but I promise I haven’t been bribed into a good review!)