Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Food - Sarikei Laksa

Sarawak Laksa (source: Kong Kay)


T
he Sarawak laksa is one of the most loved dishes in Sarikei. Its soup is prepared separately in advance and the fine strands of rice vermicelli noodles are only cooked when there's an order (to avoid soggy noodles). The chicken or shrimp based broth is prepared with coconut milk, a bit of curry, lemongrass and other spices (names?). The vermicelli is then mixed with the spicy soup and topped with blanched bean sprouts (tau geh), slivers of egg omelette, shredded chicken and peeled prawns (sometimes sliced into two to give a mirage of many prawns!). The spicy side sauce (shrimp paste) mixes well with calamansi (local lime).

Sarawak laksa arrived in Sarikei in the late 70's to early 80's after the kopitiam (coffeeshop) folks looked for new food options to sell on top of the usual fare like kam pua noodles and pien neek dumplings. The best laksa, in my opinion, was in Ngee Hin kopitiam in Repok Road's right Block 5 (counting from Rejang River) below the 1st maternity ward.



Singapore Laksa (source: yiching)


Singapore laksa uses thick slippery noodle in a thick shrimp flavoured coconut based curry. It is garnished with chopped fragrant laksa leaf. It is served with toppings like shredded skinless chicken, prawns, one half of a hard boiled egg, fish cake slices, tau pok (fried bean curd) and optional raw cockles (due to Hepatitis scare). The best place to eat this is in Katong where there's a laksa "war" between 3 shops.


Penang Laksa (source: Chen)



Penang laksa uses the same thick noodle as Sinagpore laksa but it is an assam (tamarind based) laksa, not a lemak (coconut based) laksa. The spicy broth is made from herbs and is flavoured with sweet shrimp paste, fish, ginger and assam. Its toppings include chopped chilli, pineapple, mint and onions. Its fishy and sour flavour is an acquired taste.

Which type of spicy laksa is the best? It boils down to how your brain's neurons are wired to enjoy what really hurts so good.


5 comments:

Sir Archibald said...

not being bias .. I think sarawak laksa is the best .. he he

JW said...

I think the main ingredient behind Sarawak laksa is a special paste which can be bought from market. I dunno if the vendor cooks the soup from fresh or not, but for people "away from home" like us, we bought this paste and bring over to KL. DIY laa ...

burunghelang said...

Singapore is the only place in the world where you can have all three for breakfast, lunch and dinner - I think.

ront said...

ngee hin's laksa....prepared by a cantonese fella? my favorite is the one by Ah Meng in the old open air market.....but he has since retired. Now, the one prepared by the lady with a mole (near the terminal 2 wharf) is good also.

as for the dipping sauce...that is a mixture of belacan, shallots, red and dry chilli....fried in oil.

Kong said...

Sarawak Laksa using chicken broth? I know they have some shredded chicken meat but I doubt they use chicken broth.

Could never get used to the Penang Laksa.

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