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Malaysia Kitchen: What makes a GOOD laksa!?

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Under normal circumstances, I do not publish guest posts on Brooke vs. the World, but I guess all rules are meant to be broken. My boyfriend (the laksa expert) and I have been partaking in many Malaysian meals around Sydney together as part of Malaysia Kitchen, and so it seemed suiting to let him educate my readers on his favorite dish: laksa!

laksa

If you are like many local Aussies who love Asian cuisine or have walked around any food court in a major city of Australia – I would bet that you have seen someone eating a big bowl of laksa. But why the fascination with this popular Malaysian dish, and what makes a good laksa?

First off; for those unfortunate souls who haven’t ever tasted this spicy & rich noodle soup – I guess we should quickly run through what laksa is. The most common form of laksa is a curry soup, hailing from Malaysia, which can be characterised by the dominant elements of; sambal (a chilli/prawn paste), coconut milk, more chilli, herbs & spices (like lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, galangal, coriander, Vietnamese mint), noodles, tofu puffs, bean sprouts and usually chicken or seafood. The exact recipe will vary from restaurant to restaurant and town to town, but those are the common key elements of a laksa.

Personally, I think there aren’t too many dishes in the world that are more awesome than a well-made laksa, but like anything in life, there are also a fair share of bad ones which should be avoided at all costs!

So what makes a good laksa?

laksa jackie mFor me, I think there are a few ways to ensure a good laksa experience. For starters, you want to eat it somewhere that makes their laksa fresh. We are talking about a pretty complex soup with dozens of ingredients, so using fresh meat, herbs, sambal, spices, vegetables, good coconut milk and a good base stock is essential for a fragrant & tasty bowl.

Now I like chilli and I have never eaten a mild laksa in Malaysia – so I would say that the dish has to be spicy. It doesn’t need to be uncomfortably hot, but don’t be afraid if you see a deep red chilli oil or fresh (green or red) chillies on top. A general rule of thumb is that you should be sweating a little on the nose otherwise it is too mild!

The laksa should also have a nice smooth texture – from the blend of coconut milk and broth, which forms a nice rich soup. It should be thicker than a clear consume but thinner than a curry sauce and hold the flavours of the different ingredients in balance — so you can’t always put your finger on all of the flavours at once. Unlike some other soup based dishes which are more about being a vessel for meat, noodles or dumplings –- I enjoy laksa for the broth just as much (or even more) than the other ingredients.

Which noodles belong in a laksa is a contentious issue and if you really love laksa, then you have probably had several heated debates or scuffles amongst friends and family. At the end of the day, you could have rice vermicelli or rice vermicelli AND Hokkien noodles. I have a preference for places that serve both, but in my early laksa days, I hated seeing egg noodles in my bowl. Whatever makes you happy I guess…

Alright, so I could literally go on and on about laksa but I think the best way would really be for you to just to go out and try some yourself. If you are already on board, then go eat seconds and for you noobies, don’t forget to wear protection. E.g. a bib or at least a dark coloured shirt (you dirty bastards!)

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The Laksa Blog is a not-for-profit blog with the sole aim of finding the best and exposing the worst laksa. “If you live in Sydney and love laksa, it is the only resource you need.” Go there to read Sydney laksa reviews, check current rankings, compare notes, recipes and more.

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6 Responses to Malaysia Kitchen: What makes a GOOD laksa!?

  1. ciki September 15, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    oo yeah.. true that! I am from malaysia, and yes the curry laksa is popular. Have you tried the sour and spicy counterpart, the assam laksa? that rocks too;) Great post – nice shots.

  2. thelaksablog September 15, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Hey Ciki! yeah I have tried Assam laksa in Penang quite a few times and my family has made it before. I kinda mention it on my site, I don’t mind it but I don’t love it as much as curry mee – I think it’s also kinda hard to find here. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that the curry version is a bit easier for non-Malaysians to palate 🙂 It can be a bit tangy & powerful for some. If you are in Sydney, I think there may be some on at the Grace hotel special Malaysian event thingy coming up soon.

    The photo at the top is Sambal (Nth Ryde, Sydney) and Brooke shot the nice 2nd photo at Jackie M’s in Concord.

  3. Thomas | Jus Getaway September 16, 2011 at 3:36 am #

    Sounds delicious though I am not a big fan of spicy food. My wife on the other hand would love this.

    • thelaksablog October 31, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

      Hey Thomas, if it is just the chilli you don’t like- there are some very tasty or “spicy” options that don’t burn your mouth off. Jackie M in Concord might be the best example, it is full of fresh herbs and aromatic flavours without having too much chilli!

      PS. it’s never too late to start, if you eat a laksa every week you will be able to handle chilli in no time 🙂

  4. Chris September 18, 2011 at 11:51 am #

    Haha, Pat’s love of laksa is infectious! I’m going to add his blog to my reader and broaden by culinary horizons.

    And what a good girlfriend you are to let him post on here haha 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Joys of Malaysian Food: Malaysia Kitchen Final Roundup | Brooke vs. the World - December 15, 2011

    […] Along the way, my boyfriend became inspired to start a blog about his favorite dish: laksa! The blog, suitably named The Laksa Blog, is all about reviewing laksas from different restaurants in Sydney. Ultimately, he is comparing and rating them against his favorite laksa place in Malaysia where he goes to have laksa for breakfast! If you’re interested in learning more about what a laksa is, I suggest having a look at his guest post right here on BvtW: What makes a GOOD laksa?! […]

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