There are many variations of laksa depending on the states or countries they derived from. This hot and spicy noodle soup can be found in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Sarawak laksa is the variation, in which I grew up eating. I used to have it for brunch on the weekends when I was back in my home town. There were a few stalls that my second brother and I usually frequented. Each stall often has a slightly different taste to its broth. Some can have a bit more tang and zest to the broth and some have a richer coconut milk aroma. Unlike Penang or Singapore laksa, which most people are exposed to overseas, Sarawak laksa has no curry in it. I realised the aroma and taste is somewhat similar to prawn noodle soup, while I was making the base of my own soup stock.
Despite Perth does have a few eateries that serve close to authentic Sarawak laksa, I still enjoy making laksa from scratch. Well, sort of… I acquired a couple packets of the paste when my family was here for my graduation as I could never find the paste in the oriental stores here. Perhaps, I might try making the paste from scratch someday. If you ever get a hold of the paste, do give it a try. The list of ingredients may be long, but the process is simple. Just need a little bit of patience and time, and the end result will be rewarding.
Stock Ingredients: (Serves 5-6 )
600 grams Sarawak Laksa paste (Barett’s brand)
1 Litre of water (The instructions on the packet said 2-3 litre but I like my broth rich, so I used 1 litre instead)
1-2 Chicken frame(s)
500 grams/1kg prawn shells including heads
500 grams coconut milk (canned or freshly squeezed depending on availability)
salt to taste
4-5 chicken stock cubes
2 Tablespoon of shrimp paste (belacan) (optional)
1 packet of rice vermicelli
500 grams chicken thigh/breast
400 grams bean sprouts
1 packet of coriander
500 grams/ 1kg prawns de veined
salt and pepper to taste
Limes to taste
1. Put the water to a boil and place the chicken frames in once the water starts to boil.
2.Meanwhile, de vein the prawns and set the flesh aside in a large bowl for the toppings.
3. Heat up the wok with 2 tablespoons of oil and stir fry the prawn shells and heads with the shrimp paste till they turn red.
4. Add the heads and shells in the boiling water and leave it for an hour or two to extract the flavours from the chicken and prawn shells.
5. After an hour or two, add the laksa paste and dissolve it in the stock. Add and dissolve the additional chicken stock cubes. Lower the heat to medium and let the stock simmer for 30 minutes to 45 minutes.
6.Meanwhile, heat up a medium pot of water and bring to a boil. Blanched the chicken thighs and breasts for 20 minutes or till cooked through. Leave them till they’re cool enough to handle and pull them into shreds.
7. Beat the eggs with a dash of salt and pepper to taste. Depending on how big your pan is, you might need to cook the omelette in 2-3 additions. After the omelette is cooked, using a knife or kitchen scissors, cut it into long thin shreds.
8. Chop up the coriander and set aside.
9. After 30-45 minutes, set the heat onto low, and slowly pour in the coconut milk while stirring the stock to avoid any curdling. Add additional salt to taste.
10. At this point, if you have an additional large pot and sieve, you can sieve/filter the stock to get rid of the chicken frames and prawn shells. If not, you can sieve the soup into a bowl before serving.
11. Put another pot of water to boil, blanch the rice vermicelli according to the packet instructions till it’s cooked. Drain and set aside.
12. Before serving, put the rice vermicelli in the bowl. Meanwhile, blanch the prawns till they’re cooked. Blanch the bean sprouts for a few seconds to retain the crunchiness.
13. Sieve the soup stock onto the rice vermicelli. Top it off with the blanched bean sprouts, prawns, shredded chicken and omelette, and the coriander. If you like a bit of zest, squeeze the lime and mix it up with the stock. Enjoy!