Sunday, January 11, 2009

Siamese Laksa

The Star today highlighted a Siamese Laksa that has been making waves in Penang. Also known as Penang Baba Laksa Lemak, one of the best of this noodle dish is sold at Chop Wah Chee coffeeshop near the Kek Lok Si Temple in Air Itam.

Doesn't it look delicious? The secret to the tasty soup base is the use of the big-eyed fish or fresh sardines instead of mackerel, according to the cook, who is the Thai wife of the shop-owner.

Her version is also different from what is actually served in Thailand. It is flavoured by a number of herbs used as garnishing, including basil leaves and several types of aubergines, such as the terong rapuh (a golf ball-sized aubergine and the terong pipit, a wild aubergine that is the size of a green pea.

If you would like to try this yummy Siamese laksa, the coffeeshop is located on Jalan Balik Pulau. Opening hours are between 10am and 5pm with extended hours during peak periods.

And, if you would like to try cooking this at home, here is the recipe, courtesy of The Star:

Siamese Laksa


Spice Paste:
15 (20g) dried chillies, soaked
4 (60g) fresh red chillies
5cm (40g) fresh turmeric
18-20 (180g) shallots
4 cloves garlic
6 candlenuts
5 stalks lemongrass
1 kaffir lime (remove top green layer of skin only)
100 cooking oil

Fish stock
1kg herring (parang) or mackerel (kembung)
2 litres water
2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
2 pieces tamarind peel (asam keping)
300ml thick coconut milk
1 tablesppon sugar, or to taste
2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
800g fresh laksa noodles, scalded

1 torch ginger flower (bunga kantan), split and sliced thinly
1/4 pineapple, cut into thin strips
1 cucumber, cut into thin strips
1 onion, peeled, halved and sliced thinly
1 bunch mint leaves
10 bird’s eye chillies, sliced

Blend all the spice paste ingredients. Fry until aromatic in the cooking oil over a medium to low heat. Set aside.

Gut and clean the fish. Bring water to boil; add the lemongrass and fish.

Boil for five minutes or until fish is just cooked. Remove fish, debone and flake. Set aside the fish flakes. Strain fish stock into a clean pot, add the tamarind peel and spice paste. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or until gravy is aromatic. Add half the fish flakes and coconut milk and bring back to a boil. Season to taste.

To serve, bring the laksa gravy back to a boil. Place a serving of laksa noodles in a bowl and add the desired toppings. Ladle the hot laksa gravy and top with the reserved fish flakes.