Laksa Kuala Kangsar
By Nazlina Hussin, cookbook author and cooking teacher
This laksa hails from Kuala Kangsar, Malaysia. One of the simplest laksa soups to make, it’s a skilful blend of aromatic ingredients – chilli paste, shrimp paste, onion, torch ginger bud and laksa leaves to produce a lip-smacking bowl of noodles.
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6-8 persons
1 kg fresh laksa noodles
600g fresh sardine or Indian mackerel, gutted and cleaned
10g tamarind apple (asam keping)
4 large onions (300g)
80g dried chilli paste
15g shrimp paste; toast in a frypan over a low heat for 10 seconds on each side
2 teaspoons salt
4.7 litres water
2 torch ginger buds, sliced and finely chopped
30g laksa leaves (Vietnamese mint), stalks removed
15g mint, stalks removed (optional)
1 onion, peeled, quartered and sliced thinly
Half a cucumber, sliced into discs and julienned finely
2 heads local lettuce, shredded
6 bird’s eye chillies, sliced thinly
Fresh herbs e.g. King’s salad (ulam raja)*, water dropwort (daun selom)
½ small pineapple, peeled and shredded
6 calamansi limes, cut each into 2
Prawn paste, to taste
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1. Using a medium saucepan, boil fish and tamarind in 1.2 litres water for 10 minutes over medium heat.
2. Drain fish and retain the stock. Do not remove tamarind. Flake fish meat but retain carcasses. Allow it to cool down. Place fish meat in a food processor. Pulse until fine; check to ensure that all bones are removed from the fish meat. Set it aside.
3. In the same food processor, grind fish bones and fish heads together until fine. Pour blended ingredients into a saucepan. Add 500ml water. Boil for five minutes. This is the second stock.
4. Prepare spice paste: blend chilli paste with onion and toasted shrimp paste in a food processor to a fine texture.
5. In a large saucepan, combine ground fish meat, first stock, second stock and spice paste. Boil for at least 30 minutes over a slow fire until the raw taste of the chilli paste disappears and the soup is reduced to 75% of its original volume.
6. Add in torch ginger, laksa leaves and mint. Continue to boil soup for another 5 minutes before removing from heat. Season with salt to taste.
7. In another large saucepan, boil the remaining 3 litres of water. Blanch noodles, then drain. Apportion 150g of noodles in each bowl. Using a ladle, scoop some fish soup over the noodles.
8. Garnish with items under C ingredients: vegetables, fresh herbs, pineapple and half an egg. Squeeze some lime over noodles. Top with 1-2 teaspoons of prawn paste. Serve immediately.
NOTE: *Ulam Raja, literally translated as King’s salad, is a herb that is traditionally used in medicine in Asia. In cooking, it is seen either in a salad or as a garnish. Water dropwort also known as water celery, is often eaten in Korean cuisine.
TIP: The soup can be cooked 1 day in advance for a more intense fish aroma to develop overnight. To serve, reheat it.
Nazlina Hussin’s cookbook, “The Fierce Aunty’s No-nonsense Guide to the Perfect Laksa” is the go-to resource on all things laksa in Southeast Asia. Based in Penang, she runs a culinary school that teaches participants how to cook authentic Malay cuisine.
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