Johor royal family member shares her authentic laksa Johor. Born in Johor, Balkis and her family are members of the Johor royal family who moved to the Klang Valley in the 1970s. But their passion for heritage Johor food has never wavered, inspired at least in part by the indomitable Esah’s talent for cooking these meals.
While the noodles in laksa Johor were once made out of home-spun rice flour (laksa beras), in most modern incarnations, it is typically composed of spaghetti – reputedly a result of 19th century Johor ruler Sultan Abu Bakar’s predilection for the pasta – which gave way to this popular iteration of the dish.
The spaghetti is layered with a rich, thick gravy (kuah laksa) made up of fresh fish like ikan parang (wolf herring) dried shrimps, coconut milk and curry powder as well as aromatics like ginger, lemongrass, garlic and onions.
The meal is topped with a range of greens and garnishes in the ilk of cucumber, bean sprouts, mint leaves, Thai basil, sambal belacan and lime. Curiously, the laksa is meant to be eaten using only hands as implements.
This recipe first published in Food News under The Star.
- 1kg ikan parang (wolf herring)
- 4 red onions
- 10 cloves garlic
- 7.5cm galangal
- 7.5cm ginger
- 3 stalks lemongrass
- 5 tbsp cili boh (dried chilli paste)
- 150g dried shrimp, soaked
- 50g fish curry powder
- 500ml coconut milk
- 150g kerisik (toasted, pounded grated coconut)
- 4 to 5 pcs tamarind slices
- sugar and salt to taste
- 500ml water
- 500g spaghetti
- For the condiments
- onions, peeled and finely sliced
- cucumber, peeled, cut into rolls and finely sliced
- Thai basil leaves, chopped
- Vietnamese mint leaves, chopped
- bean sprouts, blanched
- sambal belacan, as required
- Calamansi limes, halved
- Boil the fish until cooked. Debone the fish and blend till fine.
- Blend the onions, garlic, galangal, ginger, lemongrass, dried chilli paste and dried shrimp.
- In a pot, add some oil and sauté the blended paste and curry powder on low heat. Once fragrant, add in the blended fish and stir to combine.
- Add in the coconut milk and kerisik and stir well. Add tamarind slices, sugar and salt to taste. Keep stirring and add water at this stage.
- Let the mixture simmer on low heat for 1-2 hours until oil appears on the surface and colour is orangey-brown and the texture of the gravy is quite thick. Remove from heat.
- In a pot, cook the spaghetti until al dente. Plunge into cold water. Take a handful of pasta strands, and make a knot.
- Serve 1 to 2 knots of spaghetti on a plate along with the gravy. Place the condiments on top with a dash of sambal belacan and a squeeze of lime for an extra zesty taste.