Posts Tagged ‘sarawak laksa’

MP just returned from Australia after an extended Christmas and New Year holidays in Singapore late last year until early this year. When she flew back to BE, she wanted to meet up with X and I. It used to be a yearly tradition – Hubs and I, X and hubs and MP and hubs, however, with the demise of MP‘s husband, we decided to meet ~ only us girls ~ without our other halves lately.

For X, weekends are near to impossible as she’s the biggest supporter and fan of her Professional footballer son, DJC. Football matches are usually scheduled on weekends and X has never missed a single match when her son’s playing or not playing. And weekdays are out of the question for X and I as we both work full time. Finally we came to a consensus and chose one Friday evening after work. I carpooled in X‘s car.

INSTANTly Charmed 

We arrived at MP’s apartment and were entertained with tidbits, nuts, vodka and coconut water. Mmm… Pretty weird concoction, but it was okay, meaning we were not tipsy 🙂

MP confessed she’s not much of a cook. What she eats and cooks are instantaneous prepackaged meals.

While the 3 of us were chatting, she suddenly disappeared from the living room and came back with 3 packets of instant noodles!  Yay! We’re going to have instant noodles dinner!  

Uh-uh! MP was not going to cook. She was showing X and I and boasted how good the instant noodles were. The best, she said. I could not concur as I have not eaten instant noodles in a long time. 

By the way, I later googled that the 3 packets of instant ramens MP were showing us ranked Top 10 in the world, 2 of which ranked numbers 1 and 2 based on Ramen Rater’s Top Ten instant noodles for year 2013! Wow! I wasn’t even aware instant noodles were taken so seriously.

Nope! We did not meet to eat instant noodles – sorry to disappoint you 😉 It was a special evening and we adjourned to a Thai restaurant in the vicinity.

   

Kuching Laksa with a Twist 

Three weeks after the 3 of us met, I stumbled upon the instant ramens at an Asian store in the city centre.

By the way, I have stopped buying or eating instant noodles but this one was different. I was enthralled by the word on the package. Laksa

I bought 3 packets, priced at Eur 2.45/ pkt, which were not cheap at all, however considering the size of the packet, I hoped it was a home run buy. 

Introducing Singapore Laksa La Mian.  It’s a huge packet with a net weight of 185 g, thus making it a main meal, and most importantly, No MSG added

 
  

Each packet consists of 2 sachets, (A) Laksa paste and (B) Laksa premix. The noodles or La Mian or ramen were pre-steamed and air dried. The “premix” is actually coconut milk powder (santan). 

I did not follow the instruction labelled at the back of the packet, instead I did it my way, which I was familiar with. I transformed the Singapore Laksa La Mian to Kuching Laksa *big smile

First, I made the prawn broth and the chicken broth; and then I cooked an omelette, blanched some bean sprouts briefly in hot water. I then cut a lime in wedges and finally there were fresh coriander leaves for garnishing.

 

I cooked 3 packets of the La Mian, but used only 1 sachet of coconut milk powder (Laksa Premix). It tasted rather odd if I used all 3 sachets. 1 sachet was plenty.

And here were the results!
  
  

With different lighting and camera angle, the colour of the laksa broth was creamier.

 

Verdict : In 2013, the Singapore Laksa La Mian ranked no 1 in the world and has been on the Top Ten on the Ramen Rater’s List ever since. With such elite ranking, the laksa must be good, right? Frankly speaking, I did not cook the laksa as it was, hence I could not judge the taste in its original recipe.  I have modified the broth with prawns and chicken. That could be the reason why the laksa tasted very homemade, however, the Laksa paste had a strong shrimpy flavour (hey bee). I’m absolutely okay with the extra umami flavour, however, the coconut milk powder was not my favourite ingredient. A little goes a long way. For 3 packets, I used only 1 sachet and added half a chicken stock cube and course sea salt to taste with 500 ml * 3 water proportion. All the condiments used to garnish my bowl of Singapore Laksa La Mian were revamped to that of  Kuching Laksa.  The la mian (ramen) was undoubtedly the best. I loved the al dente and chewy texture of the noodles. It was top notch. That’s what made the Laksa La Mian very satisfying. Will I buy this instant noodle again? Yes, why not? It was a good instant noodle. I’m just not sure if it was the best. I missed the sour component of the laksa.  I had to squeeze a few  wedges of lime to balance the flavours – spicy, salty, sweet, umami and sour.  THAT made my meal complete!

With quite a bit of broth leftover, I blanched some vermicelli and made a bento box of Kuching Laksa for me to bring to work the next day.  It was THE most satisfying and appetising lunchbox ever!

  
  

Nom… Nom… Nom!  It was YUMMEH!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Cheers!

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!

While most of the dishes of Singapore are very similar to Malaysia’s, there is perhaps one dish that stands out amongst the others. Singapore’s version of the Hainanese Chicken Rice is the most known to many foreigners.   While this platter has become the iconic and National dish of Singapore, little Kuching town has transformed Singapore Chicken Rice as one of the signature dishes of Sarawak! Almost a neck and neck race with the most beloved and irresistible Sarawak Laksa !

Here’s my version of the “Singapore” Chicken Rice I made recently.

1. SCR_homemade chix rice

Sunday’s best choice

Sunday has always been a day of rest for my family in Kuching. Mum tries not to cook on Sundays. After the Sunday morning service, we would sample our favourite local dishes at the food court or open air markets or malls.  One of our favourite eateries in the late 80’s and 90’s was the Singapore Chicken Rice restaurant, then located at Jalan Song Thian Cheok.  We loved going there for two reasons: the tasty chicken rice dish and the air-conditioner 😀

Other days, we would order takeaway meals of the Singapore Chicken Rice. Honestly, speaking, I could not recollect dropping the word “Singapore” from SINGAPORE Chicken Rice. I could not remember saying Hainanese Chicken Rice at all.

Ask another Kuchingite. They will vouch my point.  The funny thing was the Singapore Chicken Rice Restaurant was not known in Singapore at all.  Then I learnt that the founder of the Singapore Chicken Rice were local Kuching guys, who probably had connections with Singapore?  From a teeny weeny restaurant located at Jalan Song Thian Cheok in Kuching, THE Singapore Chicken Rice became a chain of household name with restaurant outlets throughout Sarawak and the rest of the world. 

You can read their inspiring story here and how they ended up today: http://www.scr.my/

A Homemade Version

If you have been away from home for so many years – like me – it is only logical that you would crave for something you have not had in years.

By the way, my homemade version is not called Singapore Chicken Rice, but simply, Chicken Rice, an ode to the technique used by the Hainanese in poaching the chicken, with tinges of South East Asian flavours.

My recipe is adapated from the “Traditional Malaysian Cuisine:  A Rich Selection in Culinary Heritage” with some modifications – highlighted in blue – in the ingredients used and method, according to my personal taste.

2. SCR_Malaysian Traditional Cuisine

Ingredients –

  • 1 chicken (I used 8 chicken legs)
  • 450 g rice ( I used 6 rice cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (I used quite a lot of garlic – 2 bulbs!)
  • Crushed Ginger (this was not in the recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 cube chicken stock (according to taste)
  • 2 tsp sesame oil (according to quantity of the chicken meat and taste)
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce (according to quantity of the chicken meat and taste)

3a. SCR_ingredients3b. SCR_chicken

For the broth (not in the recipe – My version) –

  • 1 onion, pricked with 2 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 big slices of ginger cut on the bias
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • Fresh coriander roots (a personal favourite)
  • 2 sprigs spring onions, halved
  • 1 whole lemon grass, bruised
  • Kaffir lime leaves, torn

 For the Dipping Sauce –

  •  10 chillies
  • 6 cm piece ginger – chopped or minced finely
  • 1 Tbsp tomato sauce (Yes, that’s right!!)
  • 1 Tbsp vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic (I used quite a lot)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
Homemade chilli sauce. Mmmmmm....YUMMY!

Homemade chilli sauce. Mmmmmm….YUMMY!

Method –

  1. Boil enough water to cover the whole chicken in a large pan. Put in the chicken, lower the heat and cook the chicken covered for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the chicken in the water for 40 minutes.

5a. SCR_ chix covered 10 mins5b. SCR_chix left 40 mins

  1. Remove the chicken and put it in cold water for 15 minutes.

6. SCR_chix in cold water 15 mins

  1. Hang the chicken to dry and brush it with sesame oil mixed with soy sauce ( I placed my chicken legs upright in a colander)

7. SCR_chix hang dry brushed sesame oil + soy sauce

  1. If you’re using the whole chicken, cut off the chicken legs, wing tips and neck put them back in the water to boil and add chicken stock cube to flavor the broth (As I did not use a whole chicken, I flavoured the chicken broth with the herbs and spices. At this stage, I reserved enough stock for the rice and the chilli sauce)
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil and fry the chopped garlic until fragrant and lightly browned.
  3. Add the rice, stir-fry for one minute and add the reserved chicken stock (preferably cooled on beforehand).
  4. Transfer the rice to the rice cooker and add crushed ginger, sesame oil and stock cube or salt to taste.
  5. While the rice is cooking, start to make the chilli sauce.  Blend or pound the chillies, garlic and ginger finely.
  6. Heat 1 Tbsp oil and fry the pounded ingredients until fragrant. Add salt, sugar, tomato sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and 4 Tbsp stock broth. Season well.
  7. Just before serving, I warmed up the chicken legs in the broth, removed them and brush some sesame oil and soy sauce mixture.  I left the chicken leg whole when serving with the fragrant chicken rice, chilli sauce and a bowl of piping hot chicken broth

8a. SCR_complete platter

My version of homemade " Singapore"  Chicken Rice, made in Belgium :-D .  Gorgeous! Delish!

My version of homemade ” Singapore” Chicken Rice, made in Belgium 😀 . Gorgeous! Delish!

Oh by the way, I am submitting this post to the Little Thumbs up event for the month of July with the chosen ingredient “GINGER” hosted by Alvin from Chef and Sommelier, organised by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids

th_littlethumbups1-1

As well as to –

Cook-Your-Books #2 organised by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours.

 

Cook Your Books

 

And not forgetting to the September 2013 Cooking With Herbs Blog Challenge hosted by Lavender and Lovage 😀

Cooking-with-Herbs-300x252

 

Have a great sunny weekend!

Cheers!