Laksas of Malaysia Episode 1 (Street Food Journeys 4)

Most Australians who know laksa think “curry laksa” when asked to describe it. There’s no shame in this – curry laksa is essentially the laksa I grew up eating myself, in my part of Malaysia (Seremban, 40 miles south of KL). 

What many don’t realise is that among Malaysians, laksa means something completely different depending on which part of the country you grew up in. The most obvious example is Penang Asam Laksa, the sour broth made using fish and served with fresh herbs such as daun kesum (Vietnamese mint), shredded cucumber, torch ginger bud and pineapple, and topped with a gooey dark prawn paste which we Malaysians recognise as hei ko (Chinese) or petis udang (Malay). 

So, to a Penangite, a laksa by default refers to Penang Asam Laksa; to someone in Kuala Lumpur or Seremban, a laksa is associated with a coconut milk-based spicy soup with vermicelli (bee hoon) and/or wheat noodles (mee), tofu puffs, blood cockles (though not in Australia), etc. 

Then there’s Laksa Johor, famously served with spaghetti instead of rice noodles (aka laksa noodles) and which can easily be mistaken for spaghetti bolognese because it looks more like a sauce than a soup.

In this first episode of Street Food Journeys 4: Laksas of Malaysia, we feature these three types of laksas as follows – 

Cookbook author Datin Kalsom Taib, an authority on Johor cuisine, is joined by her Johorean caterer friend Katie from Katie Kitchen, to show how Laksa Johor is made. Keep your ears peeled for their explanation for why spaghetti is used in this dish.

Laksa Johor (photo courtesy of Datin Kalsom Taib)

Katie from Katie Kitchen with Datin Kalsom Taib, from our Laksa Johor segment in Street Food Journeys 4 Episode 1: Laksas of Malaysia

Bisu (Mute) Asam Laksa is a well-known hawker stall in Penang’s Ayer Itam. We filmed the owner, Mr. Choo Heng Fook, who is mute (hence the name), as he prepared the broth for Asam Laksa from scratch early in the morning, supported by his siblings. Thank you very much to Dr. Mecherl, a Penang local, who helped line the shoot up for us.

Penang Asam Laksa from Bisu Laksa, Ayer Itam, Penang

A family affair…the team behind Bisu (Mute) Asam Laksa, photographed here with DrMecherl (in yellow), and Jackie M.

Our MOMC@Heart cook and food entrepreneur Mazna Merten shows us how to make an Easy Asam Laksa at home, using the Asam Laksa Dry Paste from her Sudee range of products.

Easy Asam Laksa as cooked by Mazna Merten in our segment in Street Food Journeys 4 Episode 1. Featured in this photo are other products from Mazna’s Maznah Premium and Sudee ranges of dry pastes.

And finally, MOMC founder Jackie M (ie. yours truly) demonstrates how to make an Easy Curry Laksa in under 20 minutes, which you would be proud to serve to your family and friends.

Jackie M’s Easy Curry Laksa in under 20 minutes, from Street Food Journeys Series 4: Laksas of Malaysia[

Don’t forget all the recipes in this series will be published in our Street Food Journeys Series 4 Magazine.

If you’re a member of our Jackie M or Masters of Malaysian Cuisine mailing list community, it will land in your inbox sometime in October 2022. If you’re not a member, make sure you sign up to get it >>


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