Kedah Laksa

Kedah laksa

Well I’ve been terribly inactive on this blog yet again… I guess I do still have issues with commitment and self-discipline, despite my best efforts at keeping my lazy tendencies at bay. Spontaneous dim sum trips to Ipoh, attending weddings (not mine), and worrying about my future didn’t do much to help this blog from languishing either.

But no I have not given up on this food career thing (I don’t think I ever will), I just probably need to stop being distracted so much (ugh the new season of Game of Thrones is NOT helping my cause). 

Anyway, as a soft restart to (hopefully) more consistent blogging days, here’s a recipe for laksa, a traditional Malaysian dish with a confusing array of variants, which I found out the hard way in this post I wrote back in April! This one’s a Kedah laksa recipe that my mom came up with and adapted throughout the years to please my dad’s tastebuds, especially for when he craves the foods of his home-state (yes my parents can be very sweet I know).

Laksa herbs and garnishes
Bunga kantan
Kedah laksa with an attempt at styling
Kesom leaves

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Kedah Laksa

makes 5 bowls

Ingredients:

1 pack of rice noodles/vermicelli (~200g for dried noodles, or 500g fresh noodles)

5 small mackerels (ikan kembung; ~150g each)
2 tamarind peels
1 tbsp tamarind paste, mixed with water and then strained
1 stalk of lemongrass
1 torch ginger lily buds, diced, plus more to garnish
1 sprig of laksa leaves/Vietnamese coriander (~15-20 individual leaves)
1 tbsp fish sauce
salt

Spice paste: (see notes)
10 dried chillies, soaked to rehydrate
5 fresh chilllies
1 large onion / 5 shallots
2 cloves of garlic
25g galangal (can be substituted with ginger)
5g turmeric, optional
15g belacan/shrimp paste (can be substituted with fish sauce)

Garnishes:
½ head of Lettuce, slices thinly
1 bunch of mint, picked
Cucumber, shredded/sliced into matchsticks
1 red onion, sliced thinly
5 eggs, hard-boiled
1 lime, cut into wedges
1 chilli, sliced thinly

Method:

  1. Poach the mackerel in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Reserve poaching liquid. Then separate the mackerel flesh from its bones and blend it/flake it by hand. (Optional: To extract extra flavour, blend the bones with a bit of water and strain the liquid from it, then add to the mackerel poaching liquid. Discard unstrainable solids).
  2. If you're not using store-bought laksa paste, blend all ingredients in a blender until silky smooth, add water if necessary.
  3. Add the laksa spice paste, tamarind, and lemongrass to the poaching liquid and keep on a simmer for 15-20 minutes until the broth starts to smell really fragrant.
  4. Add the blended/flaked mackerel flesh, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add the torch ginger lily buds and laksa leaves. (These two are added at the end as they tend to lose their fragrance if cooked for too long.) Finally, add the fish sauce and season liberally with salt ( you need more than you’d expect!).
  5. While the broth is simmering, start prepping the garnishes. Slice the lettuce. Pick the mint leaves. Shred the cucumbers. Boil the eggs. Slice the red onions. Wedge the limes. Slice the chillies. Season with love. (Yes I know, this recipe is crazy labour intensive, don't get discouraged though, it's all worth it!)
  6. Set a separate pot of water on a rolling boil to cook the rice noodles/vermicelli. When water is boiling, plop the noodles in and cook for ~3 minutes until cooked through, stirring at the beginning to prevent the noodles from sticking. When cooked, strain the noodles and add a little oil if you see them start sticking to each other too much.
  7. You're finally ready to serve! Place noodles in a bowl, then ladle the laksa soup onto the noodles. Then add ALL THE GARNISHES. Enjoy the fruits of your hard hard labour!

Notes:

  • If you lack the time or patience for making your own laksa paste from scratch, you can always get them ready-made pastes from most grocery stores/wet markets (well in Malaysia at least...). I got mine from this auntie at the TTDI market who customises her blend of chillies and spices right in front of you according to your needs, super neat!