Whenever my mother makes a trip down to KL, I always request for a packet of sambal laksa paste. As far as I know, you can’t get it here…yet. Eating Sarawak laksa makes me reminisce home very much. The funny thing is when I was still there, I wouldn’t eat as much laksa as I would have liked. Guess it’s because you thought you could have them any time you want. But now that I’m here in KL, it’s hard to get good authentic Sarawak laksa. They always seem to lack something.
If I were to describe the taste of Sarawak Laksa, the broth is like a cross between curry and asam laksa but with a strong sambal mix into it. Don’t quote me on this one, it’s not the perfect description. I won’t even try to detail to you what are the ingredients in the laksa paste. One of it says ‘rempah’ (spices) which can be anything under the sky. When you eat Sarawak laksa for the first time, you’d think….oh, it’s pretty normal but then you realise you can’t stop eating with each bite, pausing only to wipe the sweat off your forehead and the snot trailing out of your nostril. 🙂
It takes a bit of practise to get the soup right, but I will vouch my culinary reputation that nothing beats your own homecooked Sarawak laksa. A little warning though, you might have to open all your windows and doors to avoid the sambal smell getting into the curtains or fabric sofas. Hey, that’s what you have Febreeze for!
SARAWAK LAKSA RECIPE
Sambal laksa paste, 1 packet
1 1/2 litres water (to begin with, if it’s too salty after everything else, add more water)
A pinch of salt
125 ml coconut milk
1 chicken stock cube (lately, I find that adding this will help intensify the laksa if not, it tends to be rather diluted, but it is optional all the same)
Bee Hun (Vermicelli), pre-blanched in hot water
Cooked chicken, shredded
2 eggs, for 4 people (fried like omelette, rolled up and sliced to strips)
Bean Sprouts (Taugeh)
1. Tip all the sambal laksa paste (pic below) into a deep pot. Add your water and let it come to a boil. Turn your heat down to low and let it simmer for 45 mins.
2. Let the soup cool a bit with the heat off. Strain the soup into another pot. (I strained it twice) Discard the bits and pieces left from the soup.
3. Let the ‘clean’ soup come to a boil again. Ladle away the oil on the top till you have about 4 tablespoons left, it’s good to leave some of the oil behind. Add your coconut milk and lower the heat to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for 10 mins, adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and sugar.
4. Get your toppings ready (pic below). Blanch your vermicelli in hot water and then strain them when they’re soft.
5. Crack two eggs into a bowl and beat. Make a round omelette with the beaten egg. Roll the omelette up and then slice it into strips with a knife.
6. Clean out your shrimps and remove the back veins. Blanch your shrimps into boiling water till they turn pale white.
7. Cook your chicken in boiling water all the way through and shred them when it’s cool.
8. If you like, you can also blanch your bean sprouts because some people do not like to eat them raw.
9. Assemble everything together; place vermicelli in a bowl, top it off with shredded chicken, the egg, shrimps and bean sprouts.
10. Ladle your hot soup over it and garnish with coriander leaves.
11. Spoon some sambal belacan into a small dish and place your calamansi lime there. The belacan in the photo you see was my mom’s special dry blend. But you can just use the ordinary sambal belacan. When you eat, you squeeze the lime onto the belacan, mix and then pour it into the soup based on your preference.
I have this rather disgusting belief that a bowl of noodles is truly that good when you eat it till your snot comes out. It’s a true sign of satisfaction when devouring the hot-soupy-spicy-goodness. To this day I still prefer to eat homemade Sarawak laksa, not to say that there are no good laksa shops out there in Sarawak but it’s just that laksa to me is home comfort food. I know I was in for a treat when I could smell the pungent broth from a mile away. I would walk home from school and could immediately tell my mom was cooking laksa even before making a turn at the corner. Here is a site where you can get the paste but there is a minimum amount you have to order, so I suggest to get all your friends that love laksa together to share.
Here’s to a great dish and to home……