HomeBlogs Laksa Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan culture, which
is a merger of Chinese and Malay elements found in Malaysia and
Singapore, and to a lesser extent Indonesia.
The origin of the
name "laksa" is unclear. One theory traces it back to Hindi/Persian
lakhshah, referring to a type of vermicelli. It has also been
suggested that "laksa" may derive from the Chinese word "la sha" (辣沙;
pronounced "latsa" in Cantonese)[needs IPA], meaning "spicy sand" due
to the ground dried prawns which gives a sandy or gritty texture to the
sauce. The last theory is that the name comes from the similar
sounding word "dirty" in Hokkien due to its appearance.
Types of laksa There
are two basic types of laksa: curry laksa and asam laksa. Curry laksa
is a coconut curry soup with noodles, while asam laksa is a sour fish
soup with noodles. Thick rice noodles also known as laksa noodles are
most commonly used, although thin rice vermicelli (bee hoon or mee hoon)
is also common and some variants use other types.
Curry Laksa 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 tofu 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. Two of the well known
places to try curry mee is at Lorong Seratus Tahun and Chulia
The term "Curry laksa" is more commonly
used in Kuala Lumpur or Singapore. Laksa is popular in Singapore and
Malaysia, as are laksa yong tau foo , lobster laksa, and even plain
laksa, with just noodles and gravy.
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 is heavily influenced by Thai
laksa (Malay: Laksa Thai), perhaps to the point that one could say they
are one and the same.
* Laksam, 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 laksam is eaten with hands
rather than with eating utensils due to the gravy's thick
* Katong laksa (Malay: Laksa Katong) 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 (that is, without chopsticks or a fork).
Katong laksa is a strong contender for the heavily competed title of
Singapore's national dish.
Asam laksa Asam
laksa is a sour fish-based soup. Asam (or asam jawa) is the Malay word
for tamarind, which is commonly used to give the stock its sour flavor.
It is also common to use "asam keping" also known as "asam gelugor",
dried slices of tamarind fruit, for added sourness. Modern Malay
spelling is asam, though the spelling assam is still frequently used.
main ingredients for asam laksa include shredded fish, normally kembung
fish or mackerel, and finely sliced vegetables including cucumber,
onions, red chillies, pineapple, lettuce, common mint, "daun kesum"
(Vietnamese mint or laksa mint) and pink bunga kantan (ginger buds).
Asam laksa is normally served with either thick rice noodles or thin
rice noodles (vermicelli). And topped off with "petis udang" or "hae
ko", a thick sweet prawn/shrimp paste.
Variants of asam laksa include:
Penang laksa (Malay: Laksa Pulau Pinang), also known as asam laksa from
the Malay for tamarind, comes from the Malaysian island of Penang. It
is made with mackerel (ikan kembung) soup and its main distinguishing
feature is the asam or tamarind which gives the soup a sour taste. The
fish is poached and then flaked. Other ingredients that give Penang
laksa its distinctive flavour include lemongrass, galangal (lengkuas)
and chilli. Typical garnishes include mint, pineapple slices, thinly
sliced onion, hε-ko, a thick sweet prawn paste and use of torch ginger
flower. This, and not 'curry mee' is the usual 'laksa' one gets in
* Perlis laksa' (Malay: Laksa Perlis) is similar to
Penang Laksa but differs in garnishing used such as catfish and eel
fish. The famous Perlis laksa can be found in Kuala Perlis.
Kedah laksa (Malay: Laksa Kedah) is very similar to Penang laksa and
only differs in the garnishing used. Sliced boiled eggs are usually
added to the dish. Kedah laksa used rice to make a laksa noodle. The
famous laksa in Kedah is Laksa Telok Kechai.
* Ipoh laksa (Malay:
Laksa Ipoh), from the Malaysian city of Ipoh, is similar to Penang
laksa but has a more sour (rather than sweet) taste, and contains prawn
* Kuala Kangsar Laksa (Malay: Laksa Kuala Kangsar), made
of wheat flour (usually hand made). The soup is rather lighter than the
common laksa taste and so much different from Ipoh Laksa in shape, taste
and smell. The local municipal council even built a complex called
"Kompleks Cendol dan Laksa" near the river bank of the Perak River. It
is the main attraction for tourists in Kuala Kangsar.