Malaysian Laksa with the Midas Touch of Sarawak

Posted: June 30, 2015 in Little Thumbs Up!, Nostalgia, Sarawakian, Savoury, Spicy
Tags: , , , , ,

When my last packet of laksa paste went in the pot, I was being extremely careful not to waste anything from it. I wrung the last drop of juice from the pulp, which resulted in the pulp being as dry as the desert sands of Sahara! 

The last replenishment of my laksa paste inventory was August last year when my Mum and eldest sis came to visit us. For a few months, we enjoyed glorious bowls of the aromatic and addictive laksa. My stock-count hit zero level a long time now and I literally drooled browsing the photos of the infamous Sarawak Laksa shared by my family…. *sigh*   

Yessssssss … #laksa #Kuching 

One of Travel Channel’s most famous Celebrity Chefs turned writer and CNN Presenter, Anthony Bourdain, posted a picture of a bowl of the irresistible Sarawak Laksa on Facebook and Twitter – with 2.14million followers – with just one hissing word, “Yessssssss….”

And Yes Sire to that!  A picture is worth a thousand words! 

Anthony Bourdain’s bowl of laksa with his satisfying exclamation “Yessssssss….”

 

Mr Bourdain was in Kuching recently to shoot an episode for the Travel and Food Show on CNN, “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown“. Can you imagine this? He and his crew’s first stop was to a family-run laksa stall at Choon Hui kopitiam. And guess what? They were back at the same stall the following morning for another round of the most addictive laksa in the world! Dressed casually in a black T-shirt and jeans, the New Yorker ate the simmering hot and spicy Sarawak Laksa, filmed for about two hours and paid the bill for everyone at the stall that morning.

Now, THAT is testimony to the core! A satisfied Customer pays his bills, treats his friends and shares with the world his favourite Kuching dish! Hats off to you, Mr Bourdain! 

D.I.Y the hard way

The secret to an exquisite bowl of laksa is definitely in the paste.

Malaysia is a land of laksa’s. Each State has her own laksa paste – sour, watery, fishy, shrimpy, thick, greasy, curry-flavoured … you name it, but Sarawak Laksa is known for its signature creamy texture, aromatically spicy, delectably tasty with its fiery crimson colour.

Sarawak Laksa is not a soup but a meal on its own. Five years ago, I posted a detailed write up and recipe to assemble a home-style bowl of Sarawak Laksa on this post, here.

Since my last trip to Kuching in 2008, and having run out of stock of the paste, I resorted to making my own Sarawak Laksa paste. It was hard work and long labour, but it was worth it!      

Stonemanor’s Malaysian Laksa paste 

My eyes twinkled when I chanced upon a jar of Waitrose Cooks’ Laksa paste (Malaysian inspired dish) at the British Store in Everberg not too long ago. I grabbed a jar for try-out. And by the way, it wasn’t cheap. 

Here’s how I assembled a quick laksa for 4 people…   

Ingredients

  • 185g Waitrose Cooks’ Laksa paste (Malaysian inspired dish)
  • 140 ml Coconut cream (100% coconut extract)
  • 250g rice vermicelli 
  • Prawns (5 – 6 pieces per person)
  • 500g chicken thighs/ cutlets (with bones)
  • 200g bean sprouts 
  • 4 “Vrije uitloop” or “plein air” or free-range eggs
  • Fresh coriander leaves
  • Garam masala paste
  • Fish sauce
  • Stock cube to taste 

  
Infused broth-

  • Kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, bruised
  • 5cm piece fresh ginger
  • A handful black peppercorn
  • Some coriander stalks 

 
Method

  1. Cook the prawns in the infused broth
  2. Cook the chicken in the infused broth after the prawns are done.
  3. Cook the laksa paste and add the flavoured broth and the coconut cream. Add 2 Tbsp garam masala paste. Season with half chicken stock cube and some drizzles of fish sauce (Note: I added garam masala paste because the 185g jar of laksa paste was not concentrated enough for 4 -5 servings)
  4. Assemble a bowl with vermicelli, topped with slivers of chicken, crispy bean sprouts, plump prawns and strips of omelette and then ladle the spicy and unctuous broth 
  5. Garnish with fresh coriander and a lemon wedge (or if available, calamansi lime) with a side condiment of sambal belacan 

  
WYSIWYG on a classic bowl of Sarawak Laksa, and of course the pièce de résistance has got to be that simmering hot, thick, spicy and creamy broth! Heaven! I’m in heaven! Or was I?  

  
  

  

Verdict: It was a good bowl of Laksa, but not the real McCoy. 185g laksa paste for 4 people did not conjure a concentrated broth. Garam Masala paste plus other fresh herbs, spices and seasonings came to the rescue. On its own, the laksa would not pass the test. The colour was not right and it was quite sour with a bit too much tamarind paste.  It was a “Malaysian” laksa but I had transformed  it to what I know best to that one dish that transported me back to Bumi Kenyalang or the Land of the Hornbills!

I could not get fresh coconut cream, hence, I resorted to buying a small can of 100% pure coconut cream (incidentally, a product of Malaysia) I found on the shelf of a local Belgian supermarket.  Therefore, I’m happy to link this post over at Little Thumbs Up with the June 2015 theme “CREAM” organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Mui Mui of my little favourite DIY and hosted by Diana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe 

  

As a saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” therefore, I have this to impart, “When in Kuching, do as what most Kuchingites would do. Have a bowl of Sarawak laksa for breakfast!” I’m not kidding here as the best laksa stalls in Kuching are opened as early as 7 am and closed by 10.30am. If you come by at noon, chances are you’d go home, feeling dis-satisfied and empty-handed. As there are so many different kinds of laksa’s in Malaysia, you can tell a Sarawak laksa apart from the rest as the must-have garnished ingredients are rice vermicelli, slivers of chicken, crisp bean sprouts, prawns, strips of omelette and sprinkles of fresh coriander with a condiment of sambal belacan and calamansi lime or lemon wedge. Anything else is NOT Sarawak laksa, ie NO tofu or sugar snap peas or cucumber or pineapple or lettuce, etc. Honestly speaking, I can have a bowl of Kuching laksa for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Yes, it’s that good! For this, I’m linking this post to Simply Eggcellent #5 – how do you like your eggs in the morning? hosted by Dominic of Belleau Kitchen. I’m curious what he thinks of this entry with omelette in a bowl of simmering crimson hot and spicy laksa for breakfast 😉

  

Have a great week!

Cheers from SUNNY Belgium!

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Comments
  1. Hi Isadora,

    Totally agree with you that DIY laksa is tough… plus I hate the feeling of rubbing my eyes with chili stained hands… ai ya!!! Sometimes there is really no choice and either you make your own paste, wait for your mum to deliver more laksa paste or use Waitrose Cooks’… LOL! Good that you can find Waitrose Cooks’ paste near place… and get to enjoy these lovely laksa!

    Zoe

  2. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Zoe,
    What you have commented is exactly the cycle I’ve gone through. DIY when my pantry runs dry, in heaven when family brings the paste to replenish my stock count, and of course other imaginative alternatives, like Waitrose Cooks’😜

  3. Hi Dora,
    It is all worth while with all the DIY works cause this bowl of laksa transform you back to Bumi Kenyalang. Welcome home dear friend ..lol
    Indeed your bowl of laksa look so so yum! How I wish I can have a sip of your bowl of laksa soup :p
    Thanks for sharing this to LTU!

    mui

  4. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Doreen
    Yesssss! I definitely felt closer to Bumi Kenyalang when I had that DIY bowl of laksa. Nothing beats home cooked foods. Luckily it’s not a problem getting all the ingredients needed to make this awesome dish! Warm greetings from Belgium xxx

  5. HedgeComber says:

    I spent a few months in Malaysia back in my 20’s and remember falling in love with this taste. And I’ve never tried making it from scratch, so it is now on my kitchen bucket list 😉
    Janie x

  6. Nasifriet says:

    This is one of my favourite dishes. I must say it’s quite addictive. I hope you’ll get round to making it some day and falling in love with the taste for the second or more times 😊

  7. I know what you mean by every packet of laksa is precious! I only brought 4 when I moved here, they are supposed to last a year, not sure if they can last until then! xD

  8. Nasifriet says:

    Hmmmm… Only 4? That’s tight. What you can do is make laksa once a quarter 😜, and then replenish your pantry every year.. Ha ha .. If you buy a lot and want to keep the paste fresh as ever, freeze the paste. Back in 2008, I brought back to BE 10 large packets and I immediately freeze them. Perfect!

  9. Since returning from a months holiday in South East Asia at Christmas/New Years, we’ve been on the hunt for recipes to match those we ate there. Malaysian Laksa was/is my all time favourite, we have struggled to find any that match its awesome. Pretty sure I can get all the ingredients I need to try your recipe. Thanks a bunch. Happy rest of week to you. 🙂

  10. Nasifriet says:

    You’re most welcome, Anna. I’m glad laksa is one of your all time favourites because it’s definitely mine, too. All ingredients can be found in any Asian store. Eggs and chicken in any sundry shops. I’m sure some Asian stores sell laksa pastes, not necessarily Sarawak laksa paste. See how I transformed Waitrose Cooks’ paste that brought me closer to home. Cheers!

  11. gosh what an adventurous dish, but lovely through the linky for me to have found something so different. Gonna have a real nose round your blog. Shame you could not find the ingredients you really wanted.

  12. Nasifriet says:

    Hi Elaine, I was just over at your blog. Sorry to hear about your “allergy” with egg whites. I glad whole eggs broken down and mixed suit you well. Your Almond Yorkshires looked great!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

  13. wow… this does look so incredible! I would never think of eating this for breakfast but I totally get it, it’s a beautiful dish. Thanks so much for linking up with Simply Eggcellent x

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