For those who are familiar with laksa, you would probaly think of the more popular curry laksa. Curry laksa seems to be the more affluent and well travelled cousin of the "laksa" clan. Curry laksa can be found in USA, UK and as far down south as Australia.
However did you know that there are a lot more different varieties of Laksa. It even amazes me as I'm a Malaysian and should be a bit more knowledgeable in this area. For example in Malaysia (my homeland), a country in South East Asia made up of 13 states, I found out that there is a laksa dish named after most of the states in Malaysia. Now that's a lot of laksa.
This particular laksa which I had prepared over the weekend (with assistance from my co-chef, my husband who did the chopping and grinding, whilst I did the cooking) is called Kedah Laksa. It comes from the state of Kedah, which is in the northwestern part of Peninsular Malaysia. Just as an added piece of general knowledge, Kedah is also known as the "rice bowl" of Malaysia because the main agriculture is rice planting and produces 50% of the country's rice. For those who have sampled Penang Laksa (also known as Assam Laksa), Kedah Laksa is a close cousin. Kedah Laksa has its own identity as a rich, tangy, aromatic offering of noodles with a sharp, spicy tamarind gravy and mackerel flakes, garnished with herbs indigenous to the area.
Northern Kedah Laksa
(serves 6 - 8)
1 packet laksa noodles (scalded)
1 kg mackerel (ikan kembung)
1 litre of water
7 dried chillies (soak in warm water and then de-seed the chillies) *
2 cm dried shrimp paste (belacan) *
10 shallots *
5 pieces of tamarind slices (asam gelugur)
Salt to taste
1 bud ginger flower (bunga kantan) - you may be able to find this in an Oriental grocery store
Several kesum leaves (laksa leaves)- you may be able to find this in an Oriental grocery store
* Ingredients to be grinded into a smooth paste
5 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and halved (optional)
5 calamansi limes, halved
1 large spanish onion, finely sliced
1 head lettuce, finely sliced
2 fresh red chillies, finely sliced
1 cucumber, finely julienne
Prawn paste diluted with a bit of warm water (you can purchase this from Asian grocery shop)
1) Boil the mackerel in the water for about 5 minutes or until fish is cooked. Remove the fish and debone (take care to remove all fine bones). Put the bones into a separate bowl (do not throw away). Strain the fish stock and put aside.
2) Put fish bones into a food processor and grind until it becomes a paste. Add the bone paste into the fish stock and strain one more time.
3) To the strained fish stock, add in the mackerel flesh, ground ingredients, tamarind slices. Bring to a boil and add salt to taste.
4) Add in the ginger flower and kesum leaves. Simmer for about 5 minutes and then remove from heat.
5) Put laksa noodles into individual serving bowls. Garnish with the garnishing ingredients. Pour the fish stock on top just before serving. Add prawn paste to taste. Serve noodles hot.