Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup from Peranakan culture. Curry laksa (sometimes called just laksa) is a coconut soup made with prawns, beef, bean sprouts and chili. It is very spicy but can be made milder by leaving out some of the chilis.
Laksa is a popular food in Singapore and Malaysia. You can find great, sumptuous, steamboat laksa right here at San Laksa Steamboat, located at 404 Telok Blangah Rd, Singapore 098840. You can even order online and have your Laksa precooked for you! Free delivery for every set purchased, plus you can order ala carte zi char off their menu too!
The type of laksa is based upon the soup base employed in its recipe; either rich and savoury coconut milk, fresh and sour asam (tamarind, gelugur or kokum), or the combination of the two. There are three basic types of laksa: curry laksa, asam laksa, and another variant that can be identified as either curry or asam laksa. Curry laksa is a coconut milk curry soup with noodles, while asam laksa is a sour, most often tamarind-based, soup with noodles. Thick rice noodles also known as laksa noodles are most commonly used, although thin rice vermicelli (bee hoon or mee hoon) are also common, and some recipes might create their own rice noodle from scratch. Some variants might use other types of noodles; Johor laksa for example uses spaghetti, while a fusion recipe might use Japanese udon noodle.
Curry laksa (in many places referred to simply as “laksa”) is a coconut-based curry soup. The main ingredients for most versions of curry laksa include bean curd puffs, fish sticks, shrimp, and cockles. Some vendors may sell chicken laksa. Laksa is commonly served with a spoonful of sambal chilli paste and garnished with Vietnamese coriander, or laksa leaf, which is known in Malay as daun kesum.
This is usually known as curry mee in Penang rather than curry laksa, due to the different kind of noodles used (yellow mee or bee hoon, as opposed to the thick white laksa noodles). Curry mee in Penang uses congealed pork blood, a delicacy to the Malaysian Chinese community.
The term “curry laksa” is more commonly used in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Laksa is quite popular in Singapore, and curry laksa or nyonya laksa can be simply served as plain laksa, with just noodles and gravy, or with additional ingredients. Singaporean curry laksa ranked in number 44th of CNN World’s 50 best foods. Recently, several modern twist of curry laksa has been developed, such as laksa yong tau foo which is stuffed tofu laksa, and a premium upgrade of lobster laksa.
In Indonesia, most of laksa variants are coconut milk-based soup, thus can be categorized into curry laksa. Common spices include turmeric, coriander, candlenut, lemongrass, garlic, shallot and pepper cooked in coconut milk. Widely available daun kemangi (Indonesian lemon basil leaf) is commonly used instead of daun kesum. Bihun or thin rice vermicelli is most commonly used noodle instead of thick rice noodle, and some recipe might add slices of ketupat or lontong rice cake. Bogor laksa uses ground oncom into its soup.
Variants of curry Laksa include:
- Laksa lemak, also known as nyonya laksa (Malay: Laksa nyonya), is a type of laksa with a rich coconut gravy. Lemak is a culinary description in the Malay language which specifically refers to the presence of coconut milk which adds a distinctive richness to a dish. As the name implies, it is made with a rich, slightly sweet and strongly spiced coconut gravy. Laksa lemak is usually made with a fish-based gravy (with vegetarian food stalls omitting fish) and quite similar to Thai laksa (Malay: Laksa Thai), perhaps to the point that one could say they are one and the same.
- Laksam, also known in Thailand as Lasae (Thai: ละแซ), a speciality of the Northeastern Malaysian states of Kelantan, terengganu, and Kedah, is made with very thick flat white rice flour noodles in a rich, full-bodied white gravy of boiled fish and coconut milk. Though usually made of fish flesh, it is sometimes made with eels. Traditionally Laksa is eaten with hands rather than with eating utensils due to the gravy’s thick consistency.
- Katong laksa (Malay: Laksa Katong) (Singapore Laksa) is a variant of laksa lemak from the Katong area of Singapore. In Katong laksa, the noodles are normally cut up into smaller pieces so that the entire dish can be eaten with a spoon alone, without chopsticks or a fork.
- Bogor Laksa (Indonesian: Laksa Bogor) perhaps is the most famous Laksa variant in Indonesia from Bogor city, West Java. The thick yellowish coconut milk based soup is a mixture of shallot, garlic, kemiri (candlenut), kunyit (turmeric), ketumbar (coriander), sereh (lemongrass), and salt. Laksa Bogor has a distinct earthy and nutty flavour acquired from oncom (orange-colored fermented beans cake, similar to tempe but different fungi). The hot soup runs, drained, and filled several times into the bowl contains bihun (rice vermicelli), ketupat (glutinous rice cake), smashed oncom, tauge (bean sprout), kemangi (basil leaves), yellow tofu (colored with turmeric), and boiled egg, until all the ingredients is soft and cooked. The authentic and complete Bogor laksa would include cooked shredded chicken and ground dried prawn, the cheaper street-side version however is entirely vegetarian, without any chicken or prawn, since oncom is traditionally regarded as a meat-substitute. Usually Laksa Bogor is served with sambal cuka (ground chilli in vinegar).
- Cibinong Laksa (Indonesian: Laksa Cibinong) is from Cibinong, a town between Bogor and Jakarta. It is come close to laksa Bogor, however no oncom is added. The soup is a yellowish coconut milk with a mixture of some spices, and it is served with bean sprout, rice vermicelli (bihun), hard-boiled eggs, cooked shredded chicken, fried shallots, and lots of Indonesian lemon-basil leaves. Sometime they are also served with rice cake (ketupat or lontong), depending on customer’s wishes.
- Betawi Laksa (Indonesian: Laksa Betawi) is a Betawi laksa variant from Jakarta, Indonesia. The thick yellowish coconut milk based soup is a mixture of shallot, garlic, kunyit (turmeric), lengkuas (galangal), sereh (lemongrass), salam leaf and kaffir lime leaf, ginger, pepper, and contains ground rebon or ebi (dried small shrimp) to give the unique taste. The dish contains ketupat (compressed rice cake wrapped in young coconut leaf), tauge (bean sprout), kemangi (Indonesian lemon-basil leaf), and boiled egg, sprinkled with bawang goreng (fried shallot) and often topped with emping cracker.
- Tangerang Laksa (Indonesian: Laksa Tangerang) is a Chinese-Indonesian Peranakan laksa variant from Tangerang town, west from Jakarta, Indonesia. The main ingredients of laksa Tangerang were home-made rice noodles shaped like spaghetti, chicken stock, mung beans, potatoes and chives. Customers can choose laksa with boiled egg or roasted chicken. The ayam kampung (local free-ranged chicken) laksa in thick yellowish coconut milk-based soup which is a mixture of ground shallot, garlic, turmeric, galangal, coriander, salam (Indonesian bayleaf), ginger, and white peppercorn powder. The dish contains shredded chicken, bihun (rice vermicelli), diced boiled potatoes, boiled mung beans, chopped scallions, and serundeng or kerisik (sautéed grated coconut) as thickening agent. Tangerang laksa is valued for a balanced consistency of its coconut milk soup, which is not too thick or too watery.
- Palembang Laksan (Indonesian: Laksan Palembang) often referred as pempek served in laksa soup, it is a specialty of Palembang, South Sumatra. It is a sliced pempek or surimi fishcake, served in coconut milk-shrimp broth based soup and spices, sprinkled with fried shallots.
- Palembang Lakso (Indonesian: Lakso Palembang): The Palembang style laksa. Unlike laksan that uses slices of pempek fishcake, lakso uses noodle-like steamed sago paste served in coconut milk soup with mixture spices: of palm sugar, black pepper, turmeric, coriander, and candlenut, sprinkled with fried shallots. Palembang Lakso usually uses freshwater fish such as patin and gabus (snakehead) as stock-base and its flesh is also served, the simpler and cheaper recipe however, might just use instant chicken broth.
- Banjar Laksa (Indonesian: Laksa Banjar): The Banjarmasin style laksa from South Kalimantan, that has ikan haruan (snakehead) as one of its ingredients. Similar to Palembang lakso, instead of rice noodle or vermicelli, Banjar laksa uses steamed noodle-like balls, made from rice flour paste, served in thick yellowish soup made from coconut milk, ground spices, and snakehead fish broth. Sprinkles of bawang goreng (fried shallots) and hard-boiled duck egg might be added.
- Thai Laksa: (Siam Laksa) The Thai laksa is quite common dish in Southern Thailand; the dish is probably influenced by its neighbor the Malaysian laksa lemak or curry laksa. Thai laksa employs red curry paste, chicken broth, and coconut milk, hence it can be categorized as curry laksa, and yet it demonstrate some similar traits of Thai favourite tom yum goong, such as generous amount of lemongrass, prawns, and button mushrooms. Thai laksa uses rice noodles, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, red curry paste, chicken stock, soy sauce, sugar, coconut milk, prawns, button mushrooms, spinach, lime juice, coriander, and onions.
Asam laksa is a sour, fish and tamarind-based soup. Penang Asam Laksa listed at number 26th on World’s 50 most delicious foods compiled by CNN Go in 2011. Asam is the Malay word for any ingredients that makes a dish tastes sour (e.g. tamarind, gelugur or kokum). Laksa typically uses asam keping, known as kokum in the English speaking world, which is a type of dried slices of sour mangosteens. The modern Malay spelling is asam, though the spelling assam is still frequently used.
The main ingredients for asam laksa include shredded fish, normally kembung (small mackerel of the Rastrelliger genus), and finely sliced vegetables including cucumber, onions, red chillies, pineapple, lettuce, common mint, daun kesum (Vietnamese mint or laksa mint), and pink bunga kantan (torch ginger). Asam laksa is normally served with either thick rice noodles or thin rice noodles (vermicelli). And topped off with petis udang or “hae ko” (蝦膏), a thick sweet prawn/shrimp paste.
Laksa Facts Cited from Kiddle Encyclopedia.