Johore Laksa

Johore laksa’s uniqueness is its use of spaghetti instead of the usual thick rice noodles. Laksa variants are abound, almost each state or part of the South East Asia region has their own version of this flavourful spicy fish or seafood based soup with noodles and local herbs. Some are more sour than others, while some has coconut milk added to it.  Whatever the version, everyone has their own favourite. Johore laksa is one of mine.

Johore is the southernmost state of Peninsula Malaysia, just a stone’s throw away from Singapore.

Anyways, and so I had a craving, posted a HELP question to my fellow friends on FB for a recipe. The beauty of this, is someone did come up with a recipe, Ms Wanis – old friend from high school, although the day I made it, I didn’t have all the  goods, so improvised and adapted the recipe a teenyweeny bit! Wanis, hope you are proud of me!

daun kesum, galangal and lemongrass

Recipe (4 persons)

  • 500g spaghetti cooked according to packet instructions
  • Cucumber, fresh beansprouts (blanched quickly in hot water, leave to cool), fresh mint leaves, bunga kantan (sliced finely)

Laksa Soup

  • 3 cm x 4 cm galangal (or blue ginger)
  • 2 cm x 2 cm ginger
  • 5 stalks of lemon grass (i peel outside layers and discard them as they are more fibrous)
  • 1 large local onion
  • 5 shallots
  • 2 pips of garlic
  • 4-5 dried red chillies soaked in hot water
  • 1/2 red capsicum
  • 1/4 cup of dried shrimps (hae bee /udang kering)
  • 1/4 cup of dried anchovies (ikan billis)

Grind the above into a paste (blender is better as it makes the paste finer) – add a little water to the blender if mixture is too dry.

  • 1/2 cup kerisik (toasted dessicated coconut)
  • 1/2 cup santan (coconut milk)
  • 4-5 pieces of asam keping (dried tamarind slices)
  • 2 tbp of fish curry powder
  • 1 tsp of biji ketumbar (coriander seeds)
  • 4-5 sprigs of daun kesum (laksa leaves)
  • 2 stalks of lemongrass pounded
  • 3-4 tbp of cooking oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 large can of mackerel in tomato sauce ( I know, cheats way of making this laksa)
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree (not paste)
  • 1 tbp of sugar
  • salt to taste

Using a fork, lightly mash the mackerel fish meat into smaller chunks, or put into a blender to shred the meat finer. I normally would pick out the bones if I can before doing that.

Heat oil in a pot, add the lemon grass stalks, and then, the blended spice paste, saute til fragrant, that takes about 2 minutes on medium to high heat.

Now add in the mashed fish, tomato puree, – give it a stir, then the curry powder, daun kesum, coriander seeds, asam keping and kerisik, and finally water, give it another stir. Let it slowly simmer for about 15 minutes. Remember to stir the pot occassionally.

Add salt and sugar to taste and finally the coconut milk. Continue to simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Once you noticed the oil has separated slightly and the taste from the asam and spices have been infused to the soup , you can switch off the heat.

Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving with your spaghetti and garnished with the fresh vegetables. Oh yeah, if you  have limes, – cut them into wedges and squeeze some lime juice to the noodles.

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2 thoughts on “Johore Laksa

  1. looks great.
    is there an option to use fresh shrimp and bottled or tinned anchovies instead of the dried?
    also, what’s in the fish curry powder… and I also don’t know what laska leaves are…?
    🙂

    • hi michael, thanks for the note. I ‘d then suggest to subsitute like this:
      * boil prawn/shrimp shells (about 4-5 large prawns/shrimps) in 1 1/2 cup of water to make stock. (this will replace the 1 cup of water further down in the recipe)
      * instead of anchovies, use Thai Fish Sauce (about 1-2 tbp)
      * laksa leaves – latin name is Persicaria odorata , apparently known as Vietnamese coriander. You can substitiute with kaffir lime leaves + fresh mint leaves,
      fish curry powder – to be honest i am not sure on the exact quantity mix but it has Turmeric, Chili, Coriander, Aniseed, Cumin Seeds, Pepper , Fenugreek, Fennel.

      Hope that helps.

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