Hi, Let Start Cooking the Laksa …. An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (Part III)

UPDATED POST ON 16-10-2014 – NEW PICTURE TAKING

IMG_89771

 


PART III   COOKING THE SARAWAK LAKSA

Image

Part I and Part II are rather “theoretical” and this post will show you the practical steps to prepare the Sarawak laksa.

IMG_27271

To make a delicious bowl of Sarawak Laksa, besides having some good laksa paste that I mentioned in Part II, there are few important things that you should note in your course of preparation. The process of preparation is rather laborious and I will list out the steps and unlike other posts, you should consider follow the order of steps here to save your time of preparation..

IMG_89851


WHAT YOU NEED?

In this post, the units or quantities listed out here is for about 15 bowls of laksa and you should reduce it accordingly after taking into considerations the number of persons and personal preferences.

IMG_2955 

  • Fresh Prawns or Shrimps (1kg)
  • Chicken Breast (0.75kg)
  • Coconut milk (500g) 

For coconut milk, you can use fresh or packet coconut milk. If you like it more milky (lemak), you can add in more coconut milk. If you are health conscious, either substitute it with evaporated milk or don’t add any milk at all. Have you ever heard that this delicacy is a “cardiologists nightmare”?

 IMG_3152 

  • Thin Rice Vermicelli – 1 kg (about 2.5 packets commonly sold in the markets)
  • Home-made laksa paste or ready-made laksa paste  – 1.5 kg (2-3 big packets commonly sold in the markets)

Do you know that to qualify a dish as laksa, the noodles must be either thick or thin rice vermicelli in it? Curry Mee is not a laksa as per definition of laksa here. At home, we do eat it with instant egg noodles ..Smile

 IMG_2957

  • Calamansi (about 20-30 pieces)
  • Some Sambal Belachan
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Coriander leaves and Chinese celery chopped into small pieces

One of the most important condiments in this dish is Sambal Belachan, a type of condiments made from shrimp paste. You can know more about belachan here. That is why sometime Sarawak Laksa is called Sarawak Sambal Laksa. I have buy the over-the-counter sambal belachan in Singapore and the taste just blends especially well with the soup.

If you have kids at home and they do not take spicy food, actually, when making the Laksa Paste, you can ignored chilli as an ingredients. So the laksa broth or soup that you cooked will not be spicy and you can let your kids have this. When you are eating on your own, just have one big scope of Sambal Belachan in it, the taste will be similar with those paste that have chilli in it..

IMG_89891

MAY BE I SHOULD CONSIDER MAKING  LAKSA PASTE FOR SALES TO CHILDREN OR SILVER AGE MARKET.   THEORITICALLY, SARAWAK LAKSA WITHOUT COCONUT MILK AND TOO MUCH OIL SHOULD BE CONSIDER AS A HEALTH FOOD SINCE IT IS FULL OF SPICES AND HERBS…Smile

The coriander leaves that you see in my picture is the type sold in Singapore and West Malaysia. Traditionally, in Kuching, Sarawak, coriander “seedlings” were used. However, it is harder to get it nowadays. In my old days, as one of my brothers do not like the strong smells of coriander leaves, we use Chinese celery instead. Until today, I still have the habit of mixing these two leaves as a garnish for the laksa.

IMG_89811


THE COOKING BEGINS…

If you don’t want to add seasonings like “axinomoxo”, then try to follow these steps as it will save you time and seasonings! Joking.

 

Step 1 – Blanching the Chicken Breast

IMG_2959

  • Clean your chicken breast, boil your water and put in the chicken breast. The minimum amount of water required will be at least to cover the chicken breast. But you can use more water as it will be used later.
  • Use medium heat and boil for about 20 minutes until cooked. Don’t cook too long because you breast will be juicy as all the juice will be in the soup.
  • Traditionally, in Kuching, chicken breasts were used because it is easier to hand shred and with less bones. However, you can also use the whole chicken. If this is the case, you have to use high heat to bring the water to  boil, submerged your chicken and simmer for 30 minutes. Once cooked, dip in ice cold water. You can refer to my post on chicken rice here.
  • Hand shred your chicken breast  and set aside for use.
  • Remember to keep your “chicken stock” for future use.


Step 2 – Blanching the prawns

IMG_2972

  • Clean the prawns. Blanch the prawns with the chicken stocks in Step 1.
  • Personally, I prefer to blanch the prawns with shells at it will keep all the juices. If you shell the prawns, the blanch prawns will be less tasty.
  • This process will take only about 5 minutes. Sieve the prawns and set aside the “prawns and chicken stock”.
  • As long as the prawns are cool, shelled the prawns and devein it. If you found that the prawns are dirty after you devein it, use some cooked water to clean it.
  • DON’T THROW AWAY THE SHELL, keep it for next use.


Step 3 – Making of additional Prawn Stocks

IMG_3170

  • In another pot, put in some more water and boil the prawn shells until the colour starts to turn whitish. If you don’t need that much of soup, continue using the stock from Step 2 to cook the prawn shells.
  • The stock in the first picture is the prawn + chicken stock as mentioned in Step 2 (from blanching of chicken breast and the fresh prawns).
  • The stock in the third picture is the prawn stocks from boiling the prawn shells;
  • Look at the colour of the stock, the milky colour means that the soup is very concentrated and you can just take a spoon and taste it. It will be very delicious. A side note, if you are not cooking Sarawak Laksa, when you shelled the prawns, just keep it in the fridge until a sizeable amount, then use this step to cook the prawn stock, then you can use this stock to cook the Hokkien Prawn Mee or Penang Prawn Mee!
  • If you are concerned about the chicken oil and if you have time. Put in the fridge and let the oil solidify, just throw the oil away.


Steps 4 – Cooking the Laksa Soup

IMG_2984

  • Put the home made laksa paste into the stock from Step 2 and 3. Bring to boil, add in coconut milk and other condiments. Off the fire immediately when it start to boil again. Otherwise, the coconut milk will turn into coconut oil and your laksa broth will be spoilt.
  • Remember that if you are afraid of having high cholesterol, use evaporated milk instead. How much coconut milk to add is very much depends on your personal preference. I remember when I was young, my parents sometime cook laksa without coconut milk….
  • Besides adding salt as a condiments, I have the habit of putting fish sauce instead.
  • Note that the colour of my laksa broth is very bright because I use only fresh red chilli. If I used dry chilli, the colour will be darker.
  • Cooking laksa will definitely yields quite a lot of oils. Just scope it away before you use the broth.  Like chicken stock, you can put in the fridge for 2-3 hours, let the red oil solidify and throw that away. Heat up and serve. In that case your stock will look quite dull (brownish in colour).


Step 5 – Making the Egg Omelettes

 IMG_2958 

  • Break the eggs, put a few drops of cooking oil, use fork or chop stick to slightly beat it until all the yolks and the whites are completely mixed.
  • Have a hot pan, pour some egg mixture into the pan. Either use a spatula to spread them evenly. You can also do this by twisting your pan slight in a circular motion.
  • As soon as the egg mixture is firm in the bottom and you can smell the fragrance of fried eggs, just scope up the omelettes, let it cool and shred in fine long pieces.
  • Note that if you are using a non stick frying pan, there is no need for you to use oil for frying as long as your pan is very clean and free from any food particles. You can also add a few drops of oil to the egg mixture before you pan fried them.
  • THIS STEP CAN BE PERFORMED IN BETWEEN ANY STEPS BETWEEN STEP 1 AND STEP 4


Step 6 – Blanching The Bean Sprouts and Rice Vermicelli


IMG_2974

  • In a frying pan, fill in some water and drip a few drops of cooking oil. Bring to boil, blanch the bean sprouts (approximately 5 minutes). Sieve the bean sprouts, set aside for later use.
  • Use the same water to blanch the rice vermicelli. That will take about 10-15 minutes depending how soft you want it to be. The process can be shortened if you have soaked the uncooked rice vermicelli before hand.
  • Once you  sieved the rice vermicelli, quickly put it under running tap water (or if you don’t like to drink from tap water, use some cold boiled water) for about 2 minutes.The purpose of this step is to ensure that you have some springy rice vermicelli instead of soggy rice vermicelli that stick together.
  • The few drops of oil also have the role of ensuring that the rice vermicelli would not stick together. In addition, that small amount of oil will help you to “preserve” the colour of your bean sprouts. It will look fresher instead of cook.
  • If you cannot stand the tails of the bean sprouts, you can hand picked the tails before you blanched them. For me, I usually hand picked the tails but when I run of times, I will just eat with the tails!!

  • This step is best carry out before you serve the guest.


Step 7 – Assembling and Garnishing

IMG_3175

IMG_89911

 

  • After a few hours of ordeal, you should start to “regret” making this dish!  Lets have a quick recap of all the ingredients before serving.
  • You should have blanched rice vermicelli, blanched bean sprouts, chopped coriander leaves and Chinese celery, cooked Sarawak Laksa broth, blanched prawns, shredded chicken breasts, stripped egg omelettes, calamansi and sambal belachan.
  • Take a bowl and assemble the ingredients following the sequence as in the picture (from left to right then to second row…) This, I believe will be the best presentation of your Laksa Sarawak. While the rice vermicelli have submerge in the soup, your prawns and the colour egg stripes are sitting happily on top of you reddish gravy, Do you think it is appetizing.

IMG_3176

IMG_89791


CONCLUSIONS

  • In Part 1, the definition of Sarawak Laksa, its uniqueness and the popularity have been discussed HERE.
  • Part 2 dwelled into the details of making the Sarawak Laksa Paste with a list of all major raw ingredients, its procedures and a comparison analysis between recipes. Please refer HERE.
  • Part 3 detailed how Sarawak Laksa should be prepared.

IMG_89931

  • Hopefully, this will benefit those who are keen to learn more about Sarawak Laksa and for those who are overseas, as all these spices are mostly imported from Middle Eastern countries, you can start making the paste using the powder form purchased from Indian stores. In that case, you will not worry about the kitchen equipment required, how to cook and grind the raw materials, it will at least cut short half of your time. I believed that this is also what our manufacturers in Sarawak is doing.
  • This is a long post that dealt with lots of research, reading and testing. If you found that it is useful, please forward to your friends. I will be most happy to answer any queries they have. Any factual findings that are not accurate, please drop me a line to let me know.
  • Appreciate your time reading this series and ENJOY YOUR HOME MADE SARAWAK LAKSA…

IMG_89831


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 15 October 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

IMG_89751

Guaishushu’s Report Card–Top 16 posts For 2013

over-part11

INTRODUCTION

Happy New Year 2014, my dearest readers.

Since I set up my blog  30 April, 2013, for these 7 months, I have issued a total of 334 posts, not including those recipes that I posted in the album my FACEBOOK PAGE.  I have to thank you again for your kind support and without all your support, the blog will not be able to continue into 2014.

Some of you may have joined me recently, and it will be fun to read what were the top 16 posts out of 334 posts. I was also eagerly to know the listing and rather shocked with some of the items in the listing. One of the entries that surprised me is the No. 2 – The plights of Kuey Neng Ko, No. 6- Things I discovered in Singapore and No. 12- Small Appetite Foodies’ Apple Pie.

Of course there are other better posts that should appeared in the listing such as Pineapple Rice, Sarawak Butter Milk Buns, Healthy Tiramisu,  Chinese Meat Rolls, Japanese Curry Pies and etc. However, these were excluded as the date were much later towards the last few months of the year. In fact, the difference between the entries are very close about 20-30 views per position. If I have time, I will summarize the posts from Number 17-35.


No. 1 – One, Two, Three…….Let’s Start Making Traditional Short Bread Biscuits.

1-shortbread

No. 2- The Plights of Kuey Neng Ko…The Traditional Chinese Steamed Sponge Cake…

2-steamed sponge cake

No. 3- My Steamed Sponge Cake (Kuey Neng Ko) Is Full Of Gas。。。。 (汽水鸡蛋糕)

3-steamed sponge cake 2

No. 4 – Condensed Milk That Are Not Sweet? Home Made Condensed Milk

4-condensed milk

5- Hey, I have invented my own Sarawak Laksa Paste Recipe !!!……… An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (PART II)

5-Sarawak Laksa Paste

6- Things I Just Discovered In Singapore – Sarawak Laksa and Kolo Mee

6-singapore

7- Creams and Milk Make These Buns Worth To Try –Hokkaido Soft Milk Buns

7-Hokkaido Milk Buns

8- How About Rolling Your Pancake?– The German Layered Cake–Baumkuchen

8-bamkuchen

9- Not A Lapis Legit But A Rich Dense Lapis–Lapis Horlicks (Horlicks Layered Cake)

9-Lapis Horlicks

10- Out Of Gift Ideas This Christmas? Try Some Homemade Marshmallows

10-marshmallows
 

11 – Another Uniquely Chinese Cuisine–Chinese Style Barbecue Pork–Char Siu (蜜汁叉烧)

 11-compilation

12- Small Appetite Foodie’s Apple Pie

12-Apple pie

13- Having Oven Baked Ribs for Christmas Dinner? Tony Roma’s BBQ Baby Ribs Copycat

13- Tony Romas Ribs

14- Huat Kueh- Chinese Steamed Rice Flour Cake–A Cake That Brings You Luck And Prosperity

14-Huat kueh

15 – My First Attempt On Frosting My Cupcake–Red Velvet Cupcake With White Chocolate Frosting

15-Red Velvet Cup cakes

16- What A Golf Ball Have To Do With A Pineapple? Well, It Is The Famous South East Asian Pineapple Tarts

16-pineapple tarts

If you have never read these posts before, you may want to take a quick look. I promised more recipes will be posted soon and for this month, my emphasis on Chinese New Year related cuisines.

Once again. Thanks for your kind support. Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.


For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .  

group-board-picture72222222222222222

If you are a Pinterest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 1000 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD. You can also join the Food Bloggers and Foodies United Group Facebook Group to see more recipes.

over-part21

Prawns, Prawns, Prawns… Join Me To Cook Assam Prawns

Processed with Moldiv

INTRODUCTION

This is a long awaited post on prawns and some of the picture were a few months ago. This is a special post on Chinese ways of preparing prawns for cooking purposes and including one tamarind prawn recipe.

Processed with Moldiv

Prawns are one of the major ingredients in Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese cooking. Due to the countries’ proximity to the sea, seafood is plentiful abundant and prawns are used in many cuisines. We used prawns in  vegetable dishes, noodle dish, salad or a dish on its own. It can be pan fried, deep fried and baked, stir fried, steamed, blanch, poached or boiled. 

Processed with Moldiv

 


DE SHELLING THE PRAWNS

IMG_8126

  • Use a kitchen scissor to cut off the head or use your hand by snapping the head and pulling the head downward. Use the hand that had pulled away the head earlier, starting from the bottom near the leg area, use your finger to pluck upwards and detach the shell from the body of the prawns.

  • If you want to keep the tail, you can leave the last segment of the shell unpluck. If you do not want to keep the tail, use your hand to squeeze the prawns near the tail area and pull it out.

  • Keep both the tails and heads of the prawn if you want to prepare prawn broth for other noodle cuisines.

1234272_10202030577588822_2039794140_n Sarawak Laksa using both shelled prawns and prawn broth

 


COOKING PRAWNS WITH SHELL

As the head and tail of a prawn is rather sharp, if I am cooking the cuisine with shelled prawns, I will use the following method.

IMG_8131

  • Use a kitchen scissor to cut the sharp part of the head and its tentacles. Use the scissor to cut away the legs and follow by the sharp part of the tail. This is good for cuisine that requires shelled prawns  so as to prevent the prawns from overcook. Example of cuisines are tamarind prawns or steamed prawns.

IMG_8197 Tamarind prawns with shell and heads

 


DEVEINING THE PRAWNS 

It is unsightly if the delicious cooked prawns have black intestines in its white flesh. Therefore, deveining the prawns is deemed necessary for bigger prawns. At times, the prawns are rather clean and no deveining is necessary.

IMG_7545

  • Use a small knife to cut along the top part following the shape of the prawns,  Use your hand to pull away the intestines. This is also a step to shape the prawns when cooked. If you cut it further inside, the “flower” shape of the cooked prawns will be more obvious.

IMG_7550

  • For the lower intestine, use a toothpick to pierce through the intestine near the end of the tail. Use the same toothpick to pierce under the intestine in the middle of the prawn. Take the toothpick out by cutting open the prawn fresh above the intestine. When you take the toothpick out, the intestine near the tail will follow the toothpick and comes out. Use your hand to pull away the intestine. Note that you have to be slightly careful when performing the steps so as to avoid breaking the intestines.

IMG_8368  Blanched vegetables with blanched prawns


WASHING AND FREEZING THE PRAWNS

This is how I usually freeze my prawns to avoid damaging to the meats of the prawns in the event I do not have the time to properly defrost the prawns.

IMG_7555

  • Wash your de-shelled prawns with clean water. Divide the prawns for individual serving and put it in the plastic bag. Add a small amount of water to the plastic bags and and keep it in the freezer. To defrost, just take out the prawns and let it defrost at room temperature. If you do not have adequate time, cut open the plastic bag, put it under running water and the prawns can be separated easily when the ice melts.

 


MAKING OF PRAWN BROTH

Prawn shells and prawn heads can be “recycled” to make prawn broths which can then be used for the making of many noodles dishes. it is also a good source of iron and calcium.

IMG_8350

  • Wash the prawn shells and prawn heads and set aside. In a big pot of water, add some spring onion and ginger slices (optional), prawn shells, prawn heads and bring to boil under high heat.

IMG_8352

  • Once boiled, drain and transfer to a food processor. Keep the broth. Blend until fine, transfer it back to the broth and let it simmer for another 15-20 minutes. Drain again, cool and keep the broth in the fridge for uses such as Hokkien Prawn Noodles, Penang Prawn Noodles, Sarawak Laksa broth and etc. You can keep in the fridge for quite a number of few weeks. Color of the broth will very much depends on the types of prawns that you bought. If it is female prawns with lots of eggs, it will be orangey in colour.

img_6339 Hokkien Fried Prawns Noodles prepared using prawn broth

 


ASSAM PRAWNS (TAMARIND PRAWNS)

This is a Peranakan dish (Nonya dish).  I am not Peranakan, however, my mum used to cook this when we are young. I have not eaten this prawn dish for quite a while and I am happy that I managed to replicate the dish without much difference in the flavour. The cooked prawns should be coated with slightly burnt and/or caramelized tamarind. It should looked dark and taste should be sour with tinges of sweetness. Tamarind is also called Assam in the Malay Language.

IMG_8186

 


WHAT IS REQUIRED

IMG_8133

  • 500 grams of prawns with shells (refer above)

  • 1-2 sticks of fresh lemon grass

  • 5 cloves of garlics cut into slices

  • 3 small bird eye chilli or 1-2 big chilli (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons of tamarind (or Assam paste)

  • 2 tablespoons of castor sugar (not in picture)

  • 2 tablespoons of cooking oil (not in picture)

IMG_8201

 


STEPS OF PREPARATION

IMG_8139

  • Put all ingredients together, stir well, ensure that all the prawns are coated with herbs and pastes. Marinate the prawns for 2-3 hours in the fridge.

IMG_8181

  • In a big frying pan, heat the oil using high heat. Add the marinated prawns together with the sauces and the herbs. Stir fry for one minute. Add half cup of water and bring to boil. Once boil, turn to medium heat and continue to cook until the water dries up. You will witness the colour for your prawns start to get darker and glossier as the water evaporates. It is okay if there is a slight burnt in the shells of the prawns.

  • Scoop out the cooked prawns and all the remaining sauces. Garnish with some greens such as coriander leaves if prefer. Best serve hot with white rice.

IMG_8183

 


CONCLUSION

The first part of the post is to share with readers how I prepare my prawns for cooking and the second part of the post is a recipe of tamarind prawns.

IMG_8199

For the tamarind prawns, don’t worry about the dark colour of the dish. The dark coloured sauce is the most tasty part of the entire dish. It is a blend of tamarind paste, herbs and caramelized sugar. It is both sweet and sour. I don’t mean to be gross, we suck the juices from the prawn head too. Once you try it, I am sure you will like it. But remember, don’t stain your cloth…… use hand to eat….and wash you hand with lemon or some cold tea to get rid of the “aroma” of the prawns. To sum up, if you eat with your hands, it should be finger licking good…

IMG_8208

Hope you like the post together. Cheers and have a nice day.

 Processed with Moldiv

 GUAI SHU SHU | Guai Shu Shu is a “shu shu” that is “guai“….


  • For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX (updated as at 8 June 2014)  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit the blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE to keep abreast of my future posts.  

Processed with Moldiv

Hi, Let Start Cooking the Laksa …. An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (Part III)

PART III   COOKING THE SARAWAK LAKSA

Image

Part I and Part II are rather “theoretical” and this post will show you the practical steps to prepare the Sarawak laksa.

To make a delicious bowl of Sarawak Laksa, besides having some good laksa paste that I mentioned in Part II, there are few important things that you should note in your course of preparation. The process of preparation is rather laborious and I will list out the steps and unlike other posts, you should consider follow the order of steps here to save your time of preparation..


WHAT YOU NEED?

In this post, the units or quantities listed out here is for about 15 bowls of laksa and you should reduce it accordingly after taking into considerations the number of persons and personal preferences.

IMG_2955 

  • Fresh Prawns or Shrimps (1kg)
  • Chicken Breast (0.75kg)
  • Coconut milk (500g) 

For coconut milk, you can use fresh or packet coconut milk. If you like it more milky (lemak), you can add in more coconut milk. If you are health conscious, either substitute it with evaporated milk or don’t add any milk at all. Have you ever heard that this delicacy is a “cardiologists nightmare”?

 IMG_3152 

  • Thin Rice Vermicelli – 1 kg (about 2.5 packets commonly sold in the markets)
  • Home-made laksa paste or ready-made laksa paste  – 1.5 kg (2-3 big packets commonly sold in the markets)

Do you know that to qualify a dish as laksa, the noodles must be either thick or thin rice vermicelli in it? Curry Mee is not a laksa as per definition of laksa here. At home, we do eat it with instant egg noodles ..Smile

 IMG_2957

  • Calamansi (about 20-30 pieces)
  • Some Sambal Belachan
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Coriander leaves and Chinese celery chopped into small pieces

One of the most important condiments in this dish is Sambal Belachan, a type of condiments made from shrimp paste. You can know more about belachan here. That is why sometime Sarawak Laksa is called Sarawak Sambal Laksa. I have buy the over-the-counter sambal belachan in Singapore and the taste just blends especially well with the soup.

If you have kids at home and they do not take spicy food, actually, when making the Laksa Paste, you can ignored chilli as an ingredients. So the laksa broth or soup that you cooked will not be spicy and you can let your kids have this. When you are eating on your own, just have one big scope of Sambal Belachan in it, the taste will be similar with those paste that have chilli in it..

MAY BE I SHOULD CONSIDER MAKING  LAKSA PASTE FOR SALES TO CHILDREN OR SILVER AGE MARKET.   THEORITICALLY, SARAWAK LAKSA WITHOUT COCONUT MILK AND TOO MUCH OIL SHOULD BE CONSIDER AS A HEALTH FOOD SINCE IT IS FULL OF SPICES AND HERBS…Smile

The coriander leaves that you see in my picture is the type sold in Singapore and West Malaysia. Traditionally, in Kuching, Sarawak, coriander “seedlings” were used. However, it is harder to get it nowadays. In my old days, as one of my brothers do not like the strong smells of coriander leaves, we use Chinese celery instead. Until today, I still have the habit of mixing these two leaves as a garnish for the laksa.


THE COOKING BEGINS…

If you don’t want to add seasonings like “axinomoxo”, then try to follow these steps as it will save you time and seasonings! Joking.

 

Step 1 – Blanching the Chicken Breast

IMG_2959

  • Clean your chicken breast, boil your water and put in the chicken breast. The minimum amount of water required will be at least to cover the chicken breast. But you can use more water as it will be used later.
  • Use medium heat and boil for about 20 minutes until cooked. Don’t cook too long because you breast will be juicy as all the juice will be in the soup.
  • Traditionally, in Kuching, chicken breasts were used because it is easier to hand shred and with less bones. However, you can also use the whole chicken. If this is the case, you have to use high heat to bring the water to  boil, submerged your chicken and simmer for 30 minutes. Once cooked, dip in ice cold water. You can refer to my post on chicken rice here.
  • Hand shred your chicken breast  and set aside for use.
  • Remember to keep your “chicken stock” for future use.

Step 2 – Blanching the prawns

IMG_2972

  • Clean the prawns. Blanch the prawns with the chicken stocks in Step 1.
  • Personally, I prefer to blanch the prawns with shells at it will keep all the juices. If you shell the prawns, the blanch prawns will be less tasty.
  • This process will take only about 5 minutes. Sieve the prawns and set aside the “prawns and chicken stock”.
  • As long as the prawns are cool, shelled the prawns and devein it. If you found that the prawns are dirty after you devein it, use some cooked water to clean it.
  • DON’T THROW AWAY THE SHELL, keep it for next use.

Step 3 – Making of additional Prawn Stocks

IMG_3170

  • In another pot, put in some more water and boil the prawn shells until the color starts to turn whitish. If you don’t need that much of soup, continue using the stock from Step 2 to cook the prawn shells.
  • The stock in the first picture is the prawn + chicken stock as mentioned in Step 2 (from blanching of chicken breast and the fresh prawns).
  • The stock in the third picture is the prawn stocks from boiling the prawn shells;
  • Look at the color of the stock, the milky color means that the soup is very concentrated and you can just take a spoon and taste it. It will be very delicious. A side note, if you are not cooking Sarawak Laksa, when you shelled the prawns, just keep it in the fridge until a sizeable amount, then use this step to cook the prawn stock, then you can use this stock to cook the Hokkien Prawn Mee or Penang Prawn Mee!
  • If you are concerned about the chicken oil and if you have time. Put in the fridge and let the oil solidify, just throw the oil away.

Steps 4 – Cooking the Laksa Soup

IMG_2984

  • Put the home made laksa paste into the stock from Step 2 and 3. Bring to boil, add in coconut milk and other condiments. Off the fire immediately when it start to boil again. Otherwise, the coconut milk will turn into coconut oil and your laksa broth will be spoilt.
  • Remember that if you are afraid of having high cholesterol, use evaporated milk instead. How much coconut milk to add is very much depends on your personal preference. I remember when I was young, my parents sometime cook laksa without coconut milk….
  • Besides adding salt as a condiments, I have the habit of putting fish sauce instead.
  • Note that the color of my laksa broth is very bright because I use only fresh red chilli. If I used dry chilli, the color will be darker.
  • Cooking laksa will definitely yields quite a lot of oils. Just scope it away before you use the broth.  Like chicken stock, you can put in the fridge for 2-3 hours, let the red oil solidify and throw that away. Heat up and serve. In that case your stock will look quite dull (brownish in color).

Step 5 – Making the Egg Omelets

 IMG_2958 

  • Break the eggs, put a few drops of cooking oil, use fork or chop stick to slightly beat it until all the yolks and the whites are completely mixed.
  • Have a hot pan, pour some egg mixture into the pan. Either use a spatula to spread them evenly. You can also do this by twisting your pan slight in a circular motion.
  • As soon as the egg mixture is firm in the bottom and you can smell the fragrance of fried eggs, just scope up the omelets, let it cool and shred in fine long pieces.
  • Note that if you are using a non stick frying pan, there is no need for you to use oil for frying as long as your pan is very clean and free from any food particles. You can also add a few drops of oil to the egg mixture before you pan fried them.
  • THIS STEP CAN BE PERFORMED IN BETWEEN ANY STEPS BETWEEN STEP 1 AND STEP 4

Step 6 – Blanching The Bean Sprouts and Rice Vermicelli

    IMG_2974

    • In a frying pan, fill in some water and drip a few drops of cooking oil. Bring to boil, blanch the bean sprouts (approximately 5 minutes). Sieve the bean sprouts, set aside for later use.
    • Use the same water to blanch the rice vermicelli. That will take about 10-15 minutes depending how soft you want it to be. The process can be shortened if you have soaked the uncooked rice vermicelli before hand.
    • Once you  sieved the rice vermicelli, quickly put it under running tap water (or if you don’t like to drink from tap water, use some cold boiled water) for about 2 minutes.The purpose of this step is to ensure that you have some springy rice vermicelli instead of soggy rice vermicelli that stick together.
    • The few drops of oil also have the role of ensuring that the rice vermicelli would not stick together. In addition, that small amount of oil will help you to “preserve” the color of your bean sprouts. It will look fresher instead of cook.
    • If you cannot stand the tails of the bean sprouts, you can hand picked the tails before you blanched them. For me, I usually hand picked the tails but when I run of times, I will just eat with the tails!!

    • This step is best carry out before you serve the guest.

    Step 7 – Assembling and Garnishing

    IMG_3175

    • After a few hours of ordeal, you should start to “regret” making this dish!  Lets have a quick recap of all the ingredients before serving.
    • You should have blanched rice vermicelli, blanched bean sprouts, chopped coriander leaves and Chinese celery, cooked Sarawak Laksa broth, blanched prawns, shredded chicken breasts, stripped egg omelets, calamansi and sambal belachan.
    • Take a bowl and assemble the ingredients following the sequence as in the picture (from left to right then to second row…) This, I believe will be the best presentation of your Laksa Sarawak. While the rice vermicelli have submerge in the soup, your prawns and the color egg stripes are sitting happily on top of you reddish gravy, Do you think it is appetizing.

    IMG_2847


    CONCLUSIONS

    • In Part 1, the definition of Sarawak Laksa, its uniqueness and the popularity have been discussed HERE.
    • Part 2 dwelled into the details of making the Sarawak Laksa Paste with a list of all major raw ingredients, its procedures and a comparison analysis between recipes. Please refer HERE.
    • Part 3 detailed how Sarawak Laksa should be prepared.
    • Hopefully, this will benefit those who are keen to learn more about Sarawak Laksa and for those who are overseas, as all these spices are mostly imported from Middle Eastern countries, you can start making the paste using the powder form purchased from Indian stores. In that case, you will not worry about the kitchen equipment required, how to cook and grind the raw materials, it will at least cut short half of your time. I believed that this is also what our manufacturers in Sarawak is doing.
    • This is a long post that dealt with lots of research, reading and testing. If you found that it is useful, please forward to your friends. I will be most happy to answer any queries they have. Any factual findings that are not accurate, please drop me a line to let me know.
    • Appreciate your time reading this series and ENJOY YOUR HOME MADE SARAWAK LAKSA…
    • I LOVE SARAWAK SAMBAL LAKSA………

    1233627_10202030563268464_1775040053_n

    What I cooked today (家常便饭系列)- 25-5-2013

    IMG_3729

    On 25-May 2013

    Usually, for Saturday and Sunday, if we dine at home, it will be something simpler as both my wife and me are rather lazy to cook. So today, we have noodles, noodles, noodles. We have 3 types of noodles including the kolo mee directly “imported” from Kuching.

    1. Fried Rice Vermicelli with Green Vegetables and Pork Slice (菜心肉片炒米粉)

    This is the type of fried rice vermicelli that my late mother used to prepare for us. I have insisted my wife to cook in this manner with only 3-4 ingredients (rice vermicelli, pork belly slices, chye Shim and shrimps). Besides at home, I have never eaten fried vermicelli with these simple combinations be it the one cooked by my mother in law or in parties or outside hawker stores. Usually, most fried rice vermicelli will have mushrooms, red carrots, bean sprouts, fish cakes, eggs and etc. But I am very insistent  to use only these 4 ingredients and it should not be substituted. Changes in any of the ingredients will not give the same flavor.  Today, the dish was prepared by my wife for my kids,PLEASE TRY THIS COMMONER’S RICE VERMICELLI!

    2. Fried Rice Vermicelli with Laksa Sarawak Paste (砂朥越辣沙酱炒米粉)

    As my wife cooked quite a lot of fried rice vermicelli above, I have decided to fry the above rice vermicelli with my own home made Sarawak Laksa Paste. You can learn more about home made Sarawak Laksa Paste here. Firstly, I slightly fried my laksa paste, when it started to emit the aroma, eggs were added followed by peanut powder and condiments. Before I serve, I add in shredded cucumbers and the taste was fantastic. Just imagine you are eating Indian or Malay fried noodles. PLEASE TRY THIS NEWLY CREATED RICE VERMICELLI FRIED WITH SARAWAK LAKSA PASTE and you wouldn’t regret it.

     

    3. Sarawak Kolo Mee (Dry Noodles) (砂朥越干捞面)

    This is another famous delicacies from Sarawak and shall I said, have attained at least the same status as Sarawak Laksa in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. It is unique and available in Sarawak only. There are visitors saying that this dish resemble the 车仔面 that were sold in Singapore in the 1960’s. You can read more about Kolo mee HERE, Kolo bee hoon HERE, and Sarawak Laksa HERE. Today’s Kolo Mee was brought to me by my mother in law who is visiting us from Kuching. She bought at least 8 packets of the noodles. This is a must try item in Kuching and I have never heard of any visitors ever complained about this dish be it Asians or Caucasians. PLEASE TRY THIS SARAWAK DELICACY WHEN YOU VISIT KUCHING, SARAWAK, MALAYSIA and without trying it, your trip to Kuching will not be considered as complete.

    Hi, Let Start Cooking the Laksa …. An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (Part III)

    PART III   COOKING THE SARAWAK LAKSA

    Image

    Part I and Part II are rather “theoretical” and this post will show you the practical steps to prepare the Sarawak laksa.

    To make a delicious bowl of Sarawak Laksa, besides having some good laksa paste that I mentioned in Part II, there are few important things that you should note in your course of preparation. The process of preparation is rather laborious and I will list out the steps and unlike other posts, you should consider follow the order of steps here to save your time of preparation..


    WHAT YOU NEED?

    In this post, the units or quantities listed out here is for about 15 bowls of laksa and you should reduce it accordingly after taking into considerations the number of persons and personal preferences.

    IMG_2955

    • Fresh Prawns or Shrimps (1kg)
    • Chicken Breast (0.75kg)
    • Coconut milk (500g)

    For coconut milk, you can use fresh or packet coconut milk. If you like it more milky (lemak), you can add in more coconut milk. If you are health conscious, either substitute it with evaporated milk or don’t add any milk at all. Have you ever heard that this delicacy is a “cardiologists nightmare”?

    IMG_3152

    • Thin Rice Vermicelli – 1 kg (about 2.5 packets commonly sold in the markets)
    • Home-made laksa paste or ready-made laksa paste  – 1.5 kg (2-3 big packets commonly sold in the markets)

    Do you know that to qualify a dish as laksa, the noodles must be either thick or thin rice vermicelli in it? Curry Mee is not a laksa as per definition of laksa here. At home, we do eat it with instant egg noodles ..Smile

    IMG_2957

    • Calamansi (about 20-30 pieces)
    • Some Sambal Belachan
    • Bean Sprouts
    • Coriander leaves and Chinese celery chopped into small pieces

    One of the most important condiments in this dish is Sambal Belachan, a type of condiments made from shrimp paste. You can know more about belachan here. That is why sometime Sarawak Laksa is called Sarawak Sambal Laksa. I have buy the over-the-counter sambal belachan in Singapore and the taste just blends especially well with the soup.

    If you have kids at home and they do not take spicy food, actually, when making the Laksa Paste, you can ignored chilli as an ingredients. So the laksa broth or soup that you cooked will not be spicy and you can let your kids have this. When you are eating on your own, just have one big scope of Sambal Belachan in it, the taste will be similar with those paste that have chilli in it..

    MAY BE I SHOULD CONSIDER MAKING  LAKSA PASTE FOR SALES TO CHILDREN OR SILVER AGE MARKET.   THEORITICALLY, SARAWAK LAKSA WITHOUT COCONUT MILK AND TOO MUCH OIL SHOULD BE CONSIDER AS A HEALTH FOOD SINCE IT IS FULL OF SPICES AND HERBS…Smile

    The coriander leaves that you see in my picture is the type sold in Singapore and West Malaysia. Traditionally, in Kuching, Sarawak, coriander “seedlings” were used. However, it is harder to get it nowadays. In my old days, as one of my brothers do not like the strong smells of coriander leaves, we use Chinese celery instead. Until today, I still have the habit of mixing these two leaves as a garnish for the laksa.


    THE COOKING BEGINS…

    If you don’t want to add seasonings like “axinomoxo”, then try to follow these steps as it will save you time and seasonings! Joking.

    Step 1 – Blanching the Chicken Breast

    IMG_2959

    • Clean your chicken breast, boil your water and put in the chicken breast. The minimum amount of water required will be at least to cover the chicken breast. But you can use more water as it will be used later.
    • Use medium heat and boil for about 20 minutes until cooked. Don’t cook too long because you breast will be juicy as all the juice will be in the soup.
    • Traditionally, in Kuching, chicken breasts were used because it is easier to hand shred and with less bones. However, you can also use the whole chicken. If this is the case, you have to use high heat to bring the water to  boil, submerged your chicken and simmer for 30 minutes. Once cooked, dip in ice cold water. You can refer to my post on chicken rice here.
    • Hand shred your chicken breast  and set aside for use.
    • Remember to keep your “chicken stock” for future use.

    Step 2 – Blanching the prawns

    IMG_2972

    • Clean the prawns. Blanch the prawns with the chicken stocks in Step 1.
    • Personally, I prefer to blanch the prawns with shells at it will keep all the juices. If you shell the prawns, the blanch prawns will be less tasty.
    • This process will take only about 5 minutes. Sieve the prawns and set aside the “prawns and chicken stock”.
    • As long as the prawns are cool, shelled the prawns and devein it. If you found that the prawns are dirty after you devein it, use some cooked water to clean it.
    • DON’T THROW AWAY THE SHELL, keep it for next use.

    Step 3 – Making of additional Prawn Stocks

    IMG_3170

    • In another pot, put in some more water and boil the prawn shells until the color starts to turn whitish. If you don’t need that much of soup, continue using the stock from Step 2 to cook the prawn shells.
    • The stock in the first picture is the prawn + chicken stock as mentioned in Step 2 (from blanching of chicken breast and the fresh prawns).
    • The stock in the third picture is the prawn stocks from boiling the prawn shells;
    • Look at the color of the stock, the milky color means that the soup is very concentrated and you can just take a spoon and taste it. It will be very delicious. A side note, if you are not cooking Sarawak Laksa, when you shelled the prawns, just keep it in the fridge until a sizeable amount, then use this step to cook the prawn stock, then you can use this stock to cook the Hokkien Prawn Mee or Penang Prawn Mee!
    • If you are concerned about the chicken oil and if you have time. Put in the fridge and let the oil solidify, just throw the oil away.

    Steps 4 – Cooking the Laksa Soup

    IMG_2984

    • Put the home made laksa paste into the stock from Step 2 and 3. Bring to boil, add in coconut milk and other condiments. Off the fire immediately when it start to boil again. Otherwise, the coconut milk will turn into coconut oil and your laksa broth will be spoilt.
    • Remember that if you are afraid of having high cholesterol, use evaporated milk instead. How much coconut milk to add is very much depends on your personal preference. I remember when I was young, my parents sometime cook laksa without coconut milk….
    • Besides adding salt as a condiments, I have the habit of putting fish sauce instead.
    • Note that the color of my laksa broth is very bright because I use only fresh red chilli. If I used dry chilli, the color will be darker.
    • Cooking laksa will definitely yields quite a lot of oils. Just scope it away before you use the broth.  Like chicken stock, you can put in the fridge for 2-3 hours, let the red oil solidify and throw that away. Heat up and serve. In that case your stock will look quite dull (brownish in color).

    Step 5 – Making the Egg Omelets

    IMG_2958

    • Break the eggs, put a few drops of cooking oil, use fork or chop stick to slightly beat it until all the yolks and the whites are completely mixed.
    • Have a hot pan, pour some egg mixture into the pan. Either use a spatula to spread them evenly. You can also do this by twisting your pan slight in a circular motion.
    • As soon as the egg mixture is firm in the bottom and you can smell the fragrance of fried eggs, just scope up the omelets, let it cool and shred in fine long pieces.
    • Note that if you are using a non stick frying pan, there is no need for you to use oil for frying as long as your pan is very clean and free from any food particles. You can also add a few drops of oil to the egg mixture before you pan fried them.
    • THIS STEP CAN BE PERFORMED IN BETWEEN ANY STEPS BETWEEN STEP 1 AND STEP 4

    Step 6 – Blanching The Bean Sprouts and Rice Vermicelli

    IMG_2974

    • In a frying pan, fill in some water and drip a few drops of cooking oil. Bring to boil, blanch the bean sprouts (approximately 5 minutes). Sieve the bean sprouts, set aside for later use.
    • Use the same water to blanch the rice vermicelli. That will take about 10-15 minutes depending how soft you want it to be. The process can be shortened if you have soaked the uncooked rice vermicelli before hand.
    • Once you  sieved the rice vermicelli, quickly put it under running tap water (or if you don’t like to drink from tap water, use some cold boiled water) for about 2 minutes.The purpose of this step is to ensure that you have some springy rice vermicelli instead of soggy rice vermicelli that stick together.
    • The few drops of oil also have the role of ensuring that the rice vermicelli would not stick together. In addition, that small amount of oil will help you to “preserve” the color of your bean sprouts. It will look fresher instead of cook.
    • If you cannot stand the tails of the bean sprouts, you can hand picked the tails before you blanched them. For me, I usually hand picked the tails but when I run of times, I will just eat with the tails!!

    • This step is best carry out before you serve the guest.

    Step 7 – Assembling and Garnishing

    IMG_3175

    • After a few hours of ordeal, you should start to “regret” making this dish!  Lets have a quick recap of all the ingredients before serving.
    IMG_27161
    • You should have blanched rice vermicelli, blanched bean sprouts, chopped coriander leaves and Chinese celery, cooked Sarawak Laksa broth, blanched prawns, shredded chicken breasts, stripped egg omelets, calamansi and sambal belachan.
    IMG_27231
    • Take a bowl and assemble the ingredients following the sequence as in the picture (from left to right then to second row…) This, I believe will be the best presentation of your Laksa Sarawak. While the rice vermicelli have submerge in the soup, your prawns and the color egg stripes are sitting happily on top of you reddish gravy, Do you think it is appetizing.

     

    IMG_3176


    CONCLUSIONS

    • In Part 1, the definition of Sarawak Laksa, its uniqueness and the popularity have been discussed HERE.
    • Part 2 dwelled into the details of making the Sarawak Laksa Paste with a list of all major raw ingredients, its procedures and a comparison analysis between recipes. Please refer HERE.
    • Part 3 detailed how Sarawak Laksa should be prepared.
    • Hopefully, this will benefit those who are keen to learn more about Sarawak Laksa and for those who are overseas, as all these spices are mostly imported from Middle Eastern countries, you can start making the paste using the powder form purchased from Indian stores. In that case, you will not worry about the kitchen equipment required, how to cook and grind the raw materials, it will at least cut short half of your time. I believed that this is also what our manufacturers in Sarawak is doing.
    • This is a long post that dealt with lots of research, reading and testing. If you found that it is useful, please forward to your friends. I will be most happy to answer any queries they have. Any factual findings that are not accurate, please drop me a line to let me know.
    • Appreciate your time reading this series and ENJOY YOUR HOME MADE SARAWAK LAKSA…  

    IMG_27251

    For more recipes, you can refer to my RECIPE INDEX  here and you can follow me at PINTEREST or visit this blog’s FACEBOOK PAGE .

    Capture14222[2]

     

    If you are a Interest user and you are interested to have more recipes, you can join or follow this Pinterest Board set up by me  where there are more than 250 recipes worldwide and pinned by various bloggers: FOOD BLOGGERS AND FOODIES UNITED PINTEREST BOARD

    IMG_27271

    Hey, I have invented my own Sarawak Laksa Paste Recipe !!!……… An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (PART II)

    IMG_2879

    PART II – THE SECRET OF SARAWAK LAKSA PASTE

    INTRODUCTION

    Most Sarawakian households cooked their laksa from ready-made laksa pastes made popular by the Tan’s Family in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Most people will not even bother to question how these pastes were made as the prices were reasonable and it can be easily purchased in major shops of Kuching, Besides, people were told that it is hard to home-made the laksa paste as it is laborious, time-consuming and a great number of ingredients were needed. In an article by Bernama New Agency dated 20 March 2006 (“LAKSA SARAWAK PASTE SET TO GO GLOBAL”), it was written

    “…...Refusing to disclose his recipe, Tan (refer to Mr. Barrette Tan, the son of the Late Tan Yong Him) said the original paste to make Sarawak Laksa comprised of a mixture of 20 herbs and spices needed to blend well with the noodles”

    WHY MAKING MY OWN PASTE…

    Guai Shu Shu was invited to a gathering of about 15 old classmates residing in Singapore and Southern Peninsular Malaysia and Guai Shu Shu promised them that he will cook laksa for the gathering but did not check the stock of his laksa pastes. In his mind, he still remembers that he had two 600 g packs of laksa pastes in the kitchen shelf. The night before the gathering, Guai Shu Shu discovered that he only had a pack of 300g laksa paste. That obviously is inadequate to serve 15 people and they have put high expectations on the laksa since they have not eaten laksas for a long time. Not to disappoint these old “comrades”, Guai Shu Shu decided to make his own laksa paste and the search begins…

    At around 6.00 a.m. the day of gathering, Guai Shu Shu was browsing the internet searching for a recipe of Sarawak Laksa paste. He is delighted to have found Recipe A and Recipe B (will explain in detail towards the end of the post). Based on these two recipes, Guai Shu Shu head towards Geylang Serai Market in Singapore to purchase the necessary ingredients.

    FUNTIME AT GEYLANG SERAI

    Guai Shu Shu stopped by a store owned by one rather friendly Indian Muslim woman and told her that he wanted various types of spice powders. He asked her for a piece of paper and jotted down a list of all the ingredients in the recipe’s original units and he asked the woman to give him the powder equivalent of these raw ingredients.

    To my surprise, she was also not sure of such equivalents. (For example, the powder equivalent of 2 cm of fresh galangal). After she glanced through his list, she took out some small plastic bags and asked him to decide himself how much powder he wanted. She would ask, “SGD 50 cents of galangal powder, enough for you? You want more? SGD1 is like this much?”. Guai Shu Shu knew that he had no choice but to decide for himself. Therefore, since nobody knew the equivalent units, he made the decision not to follow the recipe exactly. Based on his understanding of spices, he bought about 10 spices ranging from SGD50 cents-SGD2 each. When he told her that he wanted SGD50cents of clove powder, she looked at him and said, “Encik, clover powder is very expensive, SGD50cents is around 1 teaspoon only!!!” She is kind enough to label for him all the powders he bought. When the list was completed, Guai Shu Shu started to go through with the woman the other type of powders in the containers that is not in his first lists, and he ended buying almost all the powders that she sold except turmeric powder (actually, this is the yellowish curry powder that differentiates Sarawak Laksa from curry laksa).

    He really enjoyed the process of buying the spices, the woman is helpful and most of important of all, he never knew that there were such things as lemon grass powders, galangal powders, lemon grass powders… and not to mention belachan powder readily available in the market. All the recipes in the internet will only state units like cloves of garlic, pieces of dry chilli, number of candle nuts, cm of belachan and etc. He had cut short his preparation process by using the raw ingredients in its powder form. This had saved him a lot of time. The only thing that she don’t have was the shallot powder and Guai Shu Shu have had prepared his own shallot paste by pounding the fresh shallots.

    IMG_2816

    After marketing all the necessary ingredients, Guai Shu Shu told his wife (who is also a Sarawakian) that he wanted to make his own laksa paste, she looked at him at disbelief and just said to him, “You better don’t “main-main”(Malay word of play)!” meaning she did not trust him and what would happen if he was not successful! Since Guai Shu Shu had bought all the ingredients,he was determined wanting to make the paste, otherwise the ingredients would be of no use to him.

    WHAT HE BOUGHT EVENTUALLY…….

    The following are the ingredients that Guai Shu Shu have bought. The picture on the right of each picture is the raw ingredients for the reader’s reference. As neither the sales lady nor Guai Shu Shu actually measured the ingredients, these quantities are estimated quantities based on his memories and will serve as references. A more meaningful comparison will be the ratios of each ingredient and an analysis will be done to reconfirm the ratios of the ingredients.

    IMG_3085 ~200 g of galangal powder~ 25 g of white pepper powder
    IMG_3083 ~100 g of candlenut powder~100 g of belachan powder
    IMG_3094 ~5 g of cumins powder~5 g of fennel powder
    IMG_3084 ~150g of lemon grass powder~5g of clove powder
    IMG_3086 ~10 g of nutmeg powder~100 g of coriander powder
    IMG_3082 ~300 g of garlic ginger paste~300 g of shallot paste
    IMG_3081 ~150 g of fresh chilli paste~ 100g of tamarind paste
    IMG_3106 ~ 150 g of peanut powder~ Salt to taste

    ~ 100 g of white sugar

    ~300-400 g of cooking oil

    Overall, there are about 19 raw ingredients comprising about 1.0kg of dry powders and 850g of wet ingredients, Actually, this pretty closed to the 20 ingredients that Tan had mentioned above and there are a few items that were not included in my recipe above. These were star anise powder and cardamom powder. Therefore, this recipe should be pretty closed to Tan’s family recipe.

    Overall, the gross uncooked paste weighs around 2 kg (inclusive of cooking oils)

    THE GAMES BEGAN – MIXING THE DRY INGREDIENTS….

    IMG_2978

    Pour the ginger and garlic paste into a big mixing bowl followed by the remaining wet ingredients, namely shallot paste, chilli paste and tamarind paste.

    Put all the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients (2nd picture);

    Start mixing the ingredients and make sure that all the ingredients were well mixed.

    If you find that the mixture is too dry, add in some plain water until the final mixture resemble a paste as in the 4th picture.

    Once the color of the ingredients is consistent, the paste is ready for the next step.

    COOKING THE PASTE

    IMG_3095

    Put the cooking oil in the wok and heat it using small to medium fire. You can begin by using half of the oil and add gradually when you realized that the ingredients are too dry and hard to fry (see below);

    Initially, the raw ingredients are reddish in color before frying and the oils are very clear. Once you start frying, you will notice the ingredients start to absorb the oils. As long as you can still fry it smoothly, there is no need to add in more oil. Watch out for the heat used,  the heat used should be medium heat and not high heat. Your mixture will get burnt even before it is cooked;

    The third picture was after 1o minutes of frying. Note the oil color had changed to orange  and the paste had started to change its color too. By this time, you should begin to smell the aroma from some cooked spices..

    Cook for at least another 20 minutes or until the ingredients begin to separate from the oil. When the temperature is high, the moisture contents in the paste will boil and evaporated. Therefore, as you are using the same amount of oil to cook the dry ingredients, the excess oil will start seeping out of the mixture when there were less and less moisture.

    When the color started to turn brownish, add in the sugar, salt to taste and peanut powder. Note that you may not be able to correctly add in the right quantity of salt at this point the time, but that is perfectly okay because you can adjust it when you cooked the laksa soup. However, for sugar, the role is not really to act as condiment but more to “color” the paste to the dark brownish colors. As Guai Shu Shu have used fresh chilli, the color of his pastes were rather bright. Most recipes use dry chili and if you used dry chilli, the color will be darker and you can see chili flakes in your pastes.

    Fried for about 5-10 minutes until all you sugar start have melted and caramelized. Off the fire and if possible, let it stand for a night before cooking it. The fragrance will be stronger and more oils will be excreted.

    It took at least 45 minutes to properly cook this paste.

    MY FINAL PRODUCTS AND A BRIEF ANALYSIS..

    IMG_3107 IMG_3108

    On the left was final laksa paste that Guai Shu Shu have made and on the right was the laksa gravy cooked with his home-made paste . He had objectively compared his paste with the ready-made paste and have the following findings:

    Texture – The ready-made paste was much softer with more liquid in it. All the ingredients were very fine. His version was slightly harder but once it was boiled in the soup it dissolved in the soup. The harder texture of his paste was attributed to higher heat used to cook the ingredients initially. Once they lost the moisture content too fast, they will start to form small chunks. Therefore, the heat should not be too high and it takes patience to do this. As this is the first time he cooked this manually, the consistency will definitely cannot be compared with those pastes made by the machines.

    Fragrance – He concluded that the taste was quite close to the ready-made paste and he gave himself about 80/100. His classmates who have eaten the laksa have no major complaints about the taste. Of course, the taste can be further improved by trial and error like what Tan’s family have done initially.

    THE SEARCH CONTINUES – LAKSA PASTE RECIPE IN THE INTERNET

    On the day following his gathering, he continued to search for Sarawak Laksa paste in the internet and jotted down the ingredients of each recipe. In fact, there were not many recipes over the net and goggling “Sarawak Laksa paste recipe” shows only 1,250 results and most of them were not actually recipes but users asking for the recipe. However, he had managed to to get hold of about 6 recipes, and the most complete recipe should be the recipe published by 3hungrytummies in November 2011 with the title “Secret of Sarawak Laksa Paste Revealed” (Note: this is Recipe A that I have mentioned at the beginning of the post”). Surprisingly, this recipe was published by 3 guys residing in Melbourne and testing out the paste overseas. Is it possible that because they could not get the ready-made paste, they have to depend on their own to make their paste. They were diligently enough using all the raw ingredients but Guai Shu Shu have opted to use ingredients in its intermediary form mostly powder and paste.

    Guai Shu Shu is determined to find out what constitute the unique flavors of Sarawak Laksa and he used excel spreadsheet to perform an analysis of all the recipes that he obtained from the internet. The summary were tabulated as follows:

    A

    B

    C

    D

    E

    F

    GSS

    Shallots

    x

    x

    x

    x

    x

    x

    x

    Garlics

    x

    x

    x

    x

    x

    x

    x

    Onion

    x

    x

    Galangal

    x

    x

    x

    x

    x

    X

    Dried Chillies

    x

    x

    x

    x

    x

    x

    X

    Red chillies

    x

    x

    x

    X

    Lemon Grass

    x

    x

    x

    x

    x

    X

    Tamarind

    X

    x

    X

    Candlenuts

    X

    x

    x

    x

    x

    X

    Cumin Seeds

    x

    X

    Fennel seeds

    X

    X

    Coriander seeds

    x

    X

    X

    Star Anise

    X

    Cloves

    X

    X

    Nutmeg

    X

    X

    Cardamoms

    X

    X

    Cinnamon

    x

    x

    Sesame seeds

    X

    Belachan

    x

    x

    x

    x

    X

    Dried Shrimps

    X

    Peanuts

    x

    X

    Sugar

    X

    X

    Salt

    X

    X

    Source:

    A:

    http://3hungrytummies.blogspot.sg

    B:

    http://allrecipes.asia/recipe/1987/laksa-sarawak.aspx

    C:

    http://www.pickles-and-spices.com

    D:

    http://almaraz97.blogspot.sg/2012/02/laksa-sarawak-sambal-udang-kering.html

    E:

    http://koleksiresipi.blogspot.sg/2004/11/laksa-sarawak-dan-sambal-udang-kering.html

    F:

    http://www.bukisa.com/articles/78517_laksa-sarawak

    GSS:

    Guai Shu Shu recipe
    CONCLUSIONS
    Based on the above brief analysis,Guai Shu Su is of the opinion that:

    • The must-have ingredients for the laksa paste are shallots, garlics, candlenuts, galangal, lemon grass and corainder seeds.
    • The ratio of galangal to shallots should be about 1:1;
    • Coriander powder, garlic, candlenuts and lemon grass are equally important and the ratio should be at least half of the galangal or shallots volume;
    • All the spices should be used in moderation about 1/20 of the volume of galangal. These are not absolutely necessarysince many recipes do not use them;
    • The statement that “Sarawak Laksa Paste required more than 20 herbs and spices to produce” is valid and acceptable.
    • It can be rather time-consuming to make the paste specifically in the process of frying/cooking where only low to medium heat can be used to cook the paste. In addition, assembly of  all the ingredients can also be a tedious process.

    Guai Shu Shu will continue to test his own laksa recipe. In the event that they are new findings, it will definitely be shared with readers. It is hoped that readers can also try the above recipe and feedback to me.

    The final post of this short series will focus on the preparation of Sarawak Laksa.

    Happy reading.