Penang laksa

Laksa is of Malay origin but the Nyonyas/Nonyas (Penang Peranakan) have their own version. This is certainly Malaysia's most popular noodle dish. It is rounded rice noodles (similar to but thinner than Japanese Odon noodles) served with gravy made from fish flakes and rich spices. The dish is garnished with vegetables and is certainly a healthy dish not cooked with oil.

Here is a family recipe - we do not use oil and the ingredients are always roughly estimated, never weighed.

1 packet laksa (rice) noodles/ or 1kg wet fresh laksa noodles
1 kg mackerel or small fishes
Gravy spices:
- 1 stalk bunga kantan (flower of ginger plant), cut into slices
- 5-8 fresh red chillies, 5-7 dried chillies
- 10mm slice of square shrimp cake/paste (belachan)
- 3 cm piece of lengkuas/galangal, cut to slices
- 4 stalks lemon grass, cut to slices
- 3-4 large onions, peeled and cut
- 8-10 shallots, pealed and cut
 For garnishing:
1 cucumber - shredded
1 stalk lettuce leaves - shredded
2 large onion - shredded
1 stalk bunga kantan (flower of blue ginger) - slice thinly
2 red chillies - sliced thinly
2-3 slices of pineapples - cut into small pieces
1 bunch mint leaves - sliced thinly
2-3 hard boiled egg (optional) - sliced
Other ingredients for gravy:
One heap tablespoon of tamarind (asam jawa) - amount up to taste
2 pieces of dried tamarind
3 stalks of kesum leaves (water pepper)
salt and sugar to taste
Clean the fishes and boil (or steam) until cooked. Flake out the flesh of the fishes and ensure all bone are remove. Break up the fish flakes finely, add two cups of water to the fish flakes in the blender and blend the mixture, and put aside.
Gravy: Squeeze 3 cups of tamarind juice from the tamarind and pour into a pot for cooking.
     Pound or blend all the gravy spices (with some water) to a paste, then pour the paste into the pot of tamarind juice. Add 2 more cups of water and stir the mixture over fire. Add the kesum leaves and 2 cups of water into the pot. Bring to boil, turn down the heat/fire and let the mixture simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until fragrant. Add the fish flakes that was blended, stir well, bring to boil and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add salt and sugar to taste. (If gravy is too thick or insufficient, add more water.)
     Cook the laksa noodles by soaking into boiling water until soft, drain well and wash with some cold water before putting aside.
Cut or shred the garnishing ingredients and place on a plate.

In Penang: Where to eat Penang Laksa

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