From the different types of laksa noodles to different types of gravy, Laksa is one of the most quintessential dishes in Malaysia.
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You know very well that Malaysia is a cultural melting pot of different cultures and traditions, right? And that includes cuisines as well. We don’t only have one type of Mee, we have plenty! The same goes with Laksa.
In Malaysia, your laksa doesn’t just mean laksa! There are so many different kinds with an infinite number of ways to make them and pair them with.
Here are some of the types of Laksa known in Malaysia. Which is your fav?
1. Laksa Utara (Kedah)
Laksa Utara (North) or Laksa Kedah has all the well-known ingredients you would have if you wanna make a laksa. The main ingredients for the broth are, of course, the blended cooked fish flesh (sardines or mackerel), onions, chillies, and a few herbs like daun kesum (Vietnamese Coriander), bunga kantan (torch flower ginger), and asam gelugor/keping (tamarind slices). Other ingredients like belacan (shrimp paste) or lemongrass are optional.
The garnishing is usually sliced onions, chillies, salad, cucumber, lime, hard-boiled eggs and some other herbs (especially daun selom). The broth is best eaten with soy sauce. The richness and creaminess of it, C’est Magnifique! Another bonus for Kedahan people is that they also eat the laksa broth with fried bee hoon!
2. Laksa Kuala Perlis (Perlis)
The most northern state in Malaysia also has its rendition of laksa. They have Laksa Utara there too and also Laksa Belut (eel). The ingredients are the same as Laksa Kedah but their broth has a mixture of catfish or eel in it.
Also, Perlis people usually eat their with pulut panggang/pulut udang (grilled glutinous rice). It adds some chewiness to the ensemble!
3. Assam Laksa (Penang)
Penang’s Assam (sour) Laksa, as the name suggests, has all of the ingredients of Laksa Kedah, but with a few extras such as the tamarind juice to make it sourer. Other ingredients include belacan (shrimp paste), lemongrass, lengkuas (galangal), kunyit hidup (fresh tumeric), and the essence of shrimp’s brain paste.
Both Laksa uses the same garnishing, but Assam Laksa has the addition of pineapples and mint leaves. For extra richness and flavour, instead of soy sauce, the broth is eaten with shrimp’s brain paste.
To know if this dish is delicious or not, hey, it didn’t rank number 7 on the top 50 World’s Best Food by CNN for nothing you know! If you haven’t tried this as a Malaysian, we really feel sorry for you.
4. Laksa Johor
Next, also a cause of Laksa War between Malaysians (it all started with a spicy diss between the Johor and Kedah laksa), Johor Laksa is uniquely eaten with spaghetti instead of rice noodles!
The gravy is almost same with the Kedah Laksa but they have coconut milk, curry powder, and kerisik (fried coconut paste). The type of fish used in the broth depends solely on the cook, not according to state or region, okay. We don’t do discrimination here!
This laksa is garnished with the common garnishes including chopped long beans. They also pair this laksa off with a deliciously sour and spicy sambal belacan.
Actually, this dish is pretty rare and you can only get this during festivities. It was once used to serve the royalty in Johor you know. Fun Fact: This laksa is served on a plate (not a bowl because of their thick gravy) and eaten with hands instead of cutleries.
5. Laksa Sarawak
Also regarded as “the breakfast of the gods” by the late Anthony Bourdain, the Sarawak Laksa is one of its kind. Truly complex to make and too beautiful to eat, this laksa has a unique combination of flavours: spicy, sour, umami and richness.
The broth is not made with fish but chicken broth cooked with seafood like shrimps. Then comes the complex plethora of spices and herbs (coriander, cumin, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, shallots, chillies, tamarind pulp) and after that, they are topped off with coconut milk and palm sugar. They use thin vermicelli rice noodles or bee hoon for the laksa.
This laksa is very generous with its garnish as they have shrimps, shredded chicken bits, shredded omelette, bean sprouts, tofu puffs, sliced cucumbers, lime and the list goes on. They also eat this with a red chilli sambal belacan by the side.
6. Nyonya Laksa (Malacca)
They may look easy but the ingredients to prepare this magnificent Peranakan dish is hefty. Also similar to Singapore Laksa, this dish does not use any fish meat, instead, they use the same ingredients as the Laksa Sarawak (chicken and shrimp broth). Almost all the ingredients are similar to the latter laksa except for substituting tamarind pulp with Assam slices and adding candlenuts for extra flavour.
You can use any type of rice noodles with these, such as the thick traditional ones or the thin ones.
For the topping, they have fish balls, fish cakes, tofu puffs, hard-boiled eggs, shredded chicken, shrimp and common garnishes. You can even find a version with blood cockles in there too.
7. Laksa Telur Sarang Ipoh (Perak)
This laksa is actually just the same Laksa Utara but they have one special topping that makes it so yummy and mouth-watering! Fried omelette that looks like a bird’s nest!
The egg is whisked until bubbly and is then fried in very hot oil. You have to stretch the egg batter high from the wok to create the desired illusion. Watch the technique of frying the omelette here.
8. Laksa Mee Pangkor (Perak)
This dish is popular among the locals at the Pangkor Island, Manjung and Remis Beach in Perak. For this laksa, the noodle used is different as it can only be found in those areas. Laksa Mee looks like mee suah when dried but after it’s cooked, it looks like spaghetti (but they say it doesn’t taste the same).
The broth has a clear and soupy consistency. This dish can be cooked with seafood such as fish, crab, prawns and anything the cook desires. It is garnished with diced carrots and long beans and served with spicy red sambal.
9. Laksa Terengganu
Now, this laksa can be found on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. The Terengganu peeps have two ways of making laksa their way, one with the brown-red gravy and another one with the white gravy.
For the white gravy or laksa kuah lemak, it’s just a rendition of a common laksa with coconut milk and without the chillies. To replace the spiciness of the red chillies, they substitute it with black pepper. The creaminess of the white gravy just captivates your tastebuds!
Both of the dishes come with your common garnishes and a dollop of red spicy sambal.
10. Laksam (Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah)
Now, this dish hails from Kelantan but other states have their fair share of the recipe as well. What’s unique about this laksa is that they’re flat, round and spiral-shaped. Making this type of laksa surely looks
tedious fun as they are usually not bought from the store but handmade.
A few spoons of the liquid batter are poured onto a flat (grease it first) lid/container (whatever you can find) and is left in the steamer for around 10 mins. When it has air bubbles beneath it, it can then be cooled and rolled into a cylindrical shape, like chee cheong fun. Then, the process is repeated until you have enough for how many servings of the laksam you want. Only then can you cut them into bite-size serving pieces. FUN.
The broth is made the same way as the Terengganu white gravy with the same ingredients, garnishes and even spicy sambal.
Okay, this is not really laksa (made from white rice noodles) but they are called so by the locals. Aci lah. Curry Laksa is actually curry mee (made from yellow egg noodles) but maybe with a slight difference which is the amount of coconut milk.
Curry laksa has a thicker broth (which has coconut milk) than the curry mee (which can be without coconut milk), essentially.
This one has thin rice noodles and green gravy! It comes from our neighbouring country, Thailand and our locals just can’t get enough of them.
All in all, those are some of the types of laksa that you can find in Malaysia. Quite a lot huh? And you thought there were only Asam Laksa, Sarawak Laksa and Nyonya Laksa huh? You thought wrong.
Do you have any more types of laksa that we should know about?