Laksa is one of the stars of the cuisine of the Malay Peninsula ( Malaysia and Singapore ) and Northern Borneo ( Sarawak ) area. It is a category of food – like curry or soup but the basic dish generally comprises a flavourful broth, noodles, and seafood.
The secret to a good Laksa is within the ingredients and care taken when making the paste.
The varieties can include blanched peeled prawns, blanched shredded chicken, assorted Oriental vegetables, Tofu, blanched shredded beef, blanched squid and mixed seafood and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The basis of many Laksas is fish or shrimp paste, chilli, strong shellfish stock and coconut milk.
A large variety of noodles such as wheat, rice flour, buckwheat, and mung bean starch can be used. These noodles are used throughout Asia to make an enormous variety of soups and stir-fries.
Most commercial shops will stock egg , rice, buckwheat, soba and glass noodles.
Home-made Laksa is straightforward to make at home, but requires a lot of grinding.
To make your own:
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger
2 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, white part only, sliced
6 dried chillies, soaked and chopped
4 macadamia nuts, crushed
1 tbsp shrimp paste
6-8 Vietnamese mint, (Laksa leaves, or use regular mint)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tbsp sunflower oil
Add the ingredients for the paste to a heavy mortar, pounding with a heavy pestle in between each addition or alternatively, pulse in a food processor until the mixture resembles a thick, fragrant paste. If using a food processor, add 1-2 tablespoons sunflower oil to keep the mixture loose. Transfer the mixture to a screw-topped jar and store.
Recipes using Laksa paste
Fragrant laksa with toasted cashews and fresh herbs
Tofu and coconut stirfry