Laksa – a Malay speciality

Laksa is basically a fish or seafood curry soup with noodles. It’s available everywhere in Malaysia but also common in Thailand and Indonesia, coming from the Perankan or Nonya Chinese cooking. I had always wanted to make laksa before coming to Malaysia. The pictures in cookbooks looked mouth-watering but I couldn’t find the laksa paste ready made in England and it had so many hard to find ingredients to make it from scratch that the idea of cooking it at home never got off the ground.

But I have to say it has been well worth the wait. Since I came to Malaysia I have eaten laksa , and I now realise there are dozens of different styles, from street stalls or hawkers centres, and never spent more than 10RM (£2) on a bowl. Being a lover of spicy food and anything with fish I am in Paradise!

Apart from the coconut curry laksa (pictured above) I now discover there is “sour” fish version of  laksa which uses tamarind to give the dish its flavour and a host of regional variations such as the one I tried in Penang which has flaked mackerel, lemongrass and chilli and is garnished with mint or ginger.

The possibilities it seems are endless. Actually, I think it should be possible to tour Malaysia and do a thorough study of Laksa and its origins and variations. Now there is a thought! Be careful though, laksa often comes up red-hot spicy with chilli, and if it is ready made at a hawker centre you don’t get the chance to ask for them to tone it down as you would in a restaurant.

Wikipedia has a great feature on Laksa – but dont read it if you are hungry!

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