How to Cook Laksa Johor By Chef Dato’ Ismail (Street Food Journeys S1 E2: Johor)

Laksa Johor is famously different from the laksas found in other parts of Malaysia (as a matter of fact it was the topic of some heated online discussion among Malaysians around the time this episode first aired, about which state’s laksa is superior).

I remember when it was first described to me back during my restaurant days by my team member Tawfik Farid (who’s since built an impressive profile as a master patissier in Malaysia) . I was told it looked more like spaghetti bolognese than what most Australians would recognise as “laksa” (I say “Australians” because Malaysians have different notions of what a laksa looks like, depending on where they’re from).

As a matter of fact, it uses spaghetti rather than Asian noodles; it’s also served with a thick gravy, not soup, and it’s traditionally eaten by hand.

Laksa Johor photo

In episode 2 of Street Food Journeys: Malaysia, renowned Malaysian chef Dato’ Ismail Ahmad of Rebung Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur showed us how to make Laksa Johor, with the help of one of his chefs. Here’s the full episode replay; the Laksa Johor segment kicks in at the 2-minute mark (recipe follows below) –

Chef Dato' Ismail Ahmad

Laksa Johor by Chef Dato’ Ismail Ahmad


Laksa Sauce –
500g fish fillets, boiled and mashed
4 TBSP dried shrimp, soaked and ground
200g salted fish (optional), roasted and ground
100g grated, deep-fried & ground coconut (kerisik)
1 cup coconut cream
800ml fish stock
4 pcs asam keping (tamarind slices)
Salt & sugar to taste

Spice Paste –
10-15 shallots
5-6 garlic cloves
1⁄2 inch galangal
1⁄2 inch ginger
10-15 dried chillies, soaked
2 stalks lemongrass
3 TBSP fish curry powder
125-170ml cooking oil

To Serve –
Spaghetti, boiled and strained
2 cucumbers, shredded
2 TBSP salted preserved radish (lobak masin/choy poh)
1 cup beansprouts
2 stalks daun kesom (Vietnamese mint aka laksa
1⁄2 onion, sliced
2 limes, halved


  • Combine spice paste ingredients in a food processor and blend to a paste.
  • Fry on medium heat, stirring constantly, until oil separates.
  • Add fish and all other sauce ingredients and simmer until flavoursome.
  • Place spaghetti in a dish, top with sauce and garnishes, and serve with optional fresh sambal belacan.

Street Food Journeys: Malaysia is a series by yours truly (Jackie M.) in partnership with Tourism Malaysia Australia. Each episode focuses on a different state in Malaysia, and contains cooking segments by my Masters of Malaysian Cuisine chefs (all our core MOMC chefs make a living cooking and selling Malaysian food; we’re not just a bunch of randoms).

We feature recipes that are unique to and/or famous in that particular destination, and we show you how to make some of them.

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