Sarawak Laksa

Bee Hoon, Breakfast, Lunch, Soup August 25th, 2006

Any visit to Sarawak, Malaysia especially to the major cities and towns like Kuching, Bintulu, Sibu and Miri would not be complete without a sampling or indulging in the very delicious Sarawak Laksa. Many locals swear by their favourite stalls and some stalls are really famous. You will have to be there early to catch a bowl.

I cooked Sarawak Laksa last Saturday. Invited some friends over and had a good time. Some say it tastes good but I felt that it lacked something. Could it be the laksa paste was not spicy enough? Of could it be due to my removal of some of the oil from the soup for health reasons?

If you have cooked it before, I would appreciate your comments.

This is the Recipe for Sarawak Laksa which I cooked. Good enough for 16 bowls.

Ingredients

  • 750 grammes of Bee Hoon (rice vermicelli) (pre-soaked)
  • 1.2 kilogrammes of medium-sized prawns (with head and shell)
  • 1.5 kilogramme chicken (whole bird minus the head and feet)
  • 5 eggs
  • 500 grammes of bean sprouts
  • 16 to 20 pieces of lime
  • 900 grammes of Sarawak Laksa paste (I used the “Swallow” brand)
  • Coconut milk from 1 1/2 coconuts (about 300 mls)
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • 20 bowls of water (about 8 litres)
  • Coriander leaves (for garnishing)
From top left (clockwise) : Beansprouts, beehoon,
shredded chicken, egg strips and prawns

Method

Beat eggs and fry them thinly on a frying pan. Cut into strips. Set aside.

Boil 4 litres of water in a stock pot. Upon boiling, add 2 teaspoons of salt followed by prawns. Boil the prawns till they start to float indicating that they are cooked. Remove the prawns and let it cool.

Separately, boil 4 litres of water in another stock pot. Upon boiling, add 2 teaspooons of salt followed by the chicken. Boil till chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove chicken and let it cool.

Remove head and shell from prawn. Put back the head and shell into the first pot, cover lid and continue boiling for at least 2 hours on medium heat. Place prawn aside.

Remove chicken meat from bones and shred the meat using fingers. Put back the chicken bones into the second pot, cover lid and continue boiling for at least 2 hours on medium heat. Place shredded chicken meat aside.

Once both stock are cooked, remove heads and shells of prawns as well as chicken bones. Combine the stock into one pot. Add Sarawak Laksa paste and let it boil at medium to high heat for at least 30 minutes.

Using freshly boiled water, blanch the beansprouts in 3 batches for 1 minute each. Drain beansprouts and set aside.

Next, cook the pre-soaked beehoon in 4 to 5 batches by blanching them in boiling water for at least 1 minute. Drain and set aside.

After the Sarawak Laksa paste has been left boiling for at least 30 minutes, turn off heat and sieve and remove the spice from the stock. Bring the stock (now laksa soup) to boil again. Turn off heat and add coconut milk gradually whilst stirring. Add salt and sugar to taste.

To serve, first place cooked beehoon on a bowl. Add beansprouts, shredded chicken, prawns and egg strips. Then pour the laksa soup over the ingredients.

Garnish with coriander leaves and squeeze a lime over the soup before eating.

It is not recommended that the laksa be kept overnight as coconut milk is used.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Kiam Si Ah!!
    February 2nd, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Mine used to turn out the way you described. Then I reduced the amount of water I put in; and I also used a little MSG (no sugar) and it’s been fine since.

    I do not use prawns though; and I put the coconut milk in towards the end but I don’t turn off the heat when I add it in. I actually let it cook a few minutes on very low heat. I don’t know if that makes any difference. It’s just how I’ve been doing it.

    I make sure to eat it with lime juice and sometimes a little light soya sauce.

  2. 2
    pablopabla
    February 4th, 2008 at 2:37 pm

    Kiam si ah : Eh? No prawns? That doesn’t sound like Sarawak Laksa! LOL!

  3. 3
    ima_ixora
    May 13th, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    i like laksa…. n thanks for this recipe…n i’ll try it at home…must be delicious..ummmpppppppph

  4. 4
    an overseas sarawakian
    May 24th, 2008 at 6:26 pm

    howdy! firstly good job on this yummy site:D

    I’ve cooked sarawak laksa with the same paste and it’s never tasted the same all along until one fine day, my brother added some belacan paste to it and thats the closest i’ve ever tasted from the ones i get from home! what we used was not pure belacan paste but those pre-mixed bottled belacan chilli paste that you get from the shops..give it a try=)

  5. 5
    pablopabla
    May 27th, 2008 at 9:50 am

    overseas sarawakian : Hmmm…that’s a thought. Thanks!

  6. 6
    laksa afficienado
    July 24th, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    maybe you should try a different brand of laksa paste.
    ive tried all the brands and the one which i think tastes the best would be A1 curry laksa paste. slightly more expensive tho

  7. 8
    Jess
    September 9th, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Sarawak Laksa doesn’t have any curry in there, it won’t taste the same if u use A1 paste. I’ve cooked Sarawak Laksa using the same paste as you’d. Yea… removal of the oil could make it less spicy.

    I’m craving for laksa… time to cook some… but so much work.

  8. 9
    Ah Moh
    September 14th, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    I just cooked the same laksa today (for the first time) and using the same brand for the paste. The result still slightly out after adding belacan.

    We think we will try to add more coconut cream (we only added 1 ayam brand can) and lemon grass.

    You can argue until the cows come home, but Sarawak laksa by far is still the best…… LOL

  9. 10
    Kenneth Chong
    October 3rd, 2008 at 11:39 pm

    Great to hear that there are many of you out there who loves Sarawak Laksa…not everyone finds it nice…it is an accquired taste really…if you find the taste a little of…you need some belachan…here is my mum’s belachan recipe…

    5 stalkes of dried chillies (soaked in hot water)
    1-2 tablespoon of belachan (burned over flames or dry fried on a hot work with no oil)
    Pound these 2 ingredients together.

    Add a teaspoon of the belachan to each bowl and tell me if you find it nicer….

    For those who wish to try a “lemak” laksa, add coconut milk the first time then coconut cream just before you turn off the heat…

    For health reasons, you may leave out the MSG, what you can do is add carrots, celery into the chicken stock (I only use the chicken thigh), boil it until it is sweet and tasty then add it into the already strained laksa soup…

    good luck trying!!

  10. 11
    Kingy
    October 12th, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Hi! I know a Sarawak friend and have tried her Sarawak laksa before, its delicious! I do notice other than the ingredients you have listed here, she also adds lemon grass and belacan to her laksa paste. Might want to try that? Good luck!

  11. 12
    Bell
    October 27th, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    I’m fairly inexperienced in the cooking department, but I know from cooking Sarawak Laksa overseas that there is always a little something lacking. What I like to do is make it really lemak – less water or more coconut whichever you prefer – and I also add a tablespoon or so of oyster sauce instead of msg. A little extra belacan doesn’t hurt. Another thing is I “double boil” the laksa paste to extract maximum flavour, so I boil it in a little water, strain it, and add a little more water and boil again and strain a second time, this adds to the overall liquid content of the soup/gravy so that needs to be compensated for. I don’t have the right limes where I live, so it will never ever be quite the same for me… but overall I’m quite happy with the laksa I cook whenever I can muster up the energy to do so. shredding chicken is so tedious! :P

    Now I’m craving… will have to invite some friends over and cook laksa again soon ;)

  12. 13
    Ricky Tang
    December 7th, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Wht u need is the superior stock of pork bones and chicken bones with some prawn head……..then u add the laksa paste into it and boil and then simmer for a couple of hours …then strain it and add seasoning and coconut milk to it.Dont ever compromise taste with health..(msg has been used for eons by the chinese and japanese).Its the stock tht makes the difference..

  13. 14
    KCT
    January 8th, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I’m overseas, does anyone know how to make the ‘paste’ from scratch?

  14. 15
    Ah Moh
    January 18th, 2009 at 7:25 am

    I am going home today……….. can’t wait to sink my teeth into that tasty laksa…..yam yam! LOL

    新年快乐 xin nian kuai le
    身体健康 shen ti jian kang
    万事如意 wan shi ru yi
    恭喜发财 gong xi fa cai

  15. 16
    gracemdk
    March 2nd, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    Hi,
    Try “LIZA” brand. I have been using this brand and it taste much better then others. My family n I lurve laksa and i cook it abt twice a month.

  16. 17
    Grace Ginat
    April 12th, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Hmmm….yummy i love sarawak laksa,..to make it more tastier add-up the “Buah Keras” (pounded) and of course the chicken stock itself

  17. 18
    syolivia
    April 12th, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    How to cook Laksa I donno but I ate a lot of Sarawak Laksa and the best Sarawak Laksa that I have tried is in Miri. And it tasted really really nice… its at Krokop 3, Mdm Wee Cafe. If you have a change come to Miri, Sarawak, try it then you will know.

  18. 19
    aricka
    April 28th, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    me again. any replacement for this paste brand? im overseas, so i dont think cant get it! i love kuching laksa!!!!!!!!!!!!

    over here can find a few brands from malaysia too but not sure which is nice, dont want to waste money end up in the bin!

  19. 20
    Rusty
    May 24th, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    pablopabla: i usually add some fish sauce when boiling the soup.

  20. 21
    midge
    May 28th, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    hello just came across your website and was reading ur post on S’wak Laksa. Noted that u said “something was missing” from the flavour. I’d like to offer a tip which I believe gives the kick to it – before cooking the paste with the stock, put paste in blender with a few scoops of stock and blend. Return blended paste into stock pot and boil + add the usual seasonings. It will give the laksa soup the extra boost!

  21. 22
    Suzie Tay
    June 28th, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Hi,i come from Kuching and had myself engrossed with Sarawak Laksa as long as i can remember. My experience comes from cooking for house functions at Kuching and in Selangor. I have a stall at Le Kwang Restaurant at USJ2/2B in Subang Jaya,same row as the Shell Station at USJ2, facing the houses.We are open from 8am-3.30pm.I also have a stall at Putra Heights Section 2 at PTH Seafood Restaurant, same row as 7-11.We start operating as of 2nd week of July 2009 from 11.00am-3.30pm. Do drop by with your family & friends and give your comments.

  22. 23
    Arlynna
    September 8th, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Thank for the recipes.Just try out another brand of laksa paste.Hehehe..

  23. 24
    daniel goodall
    April 20th, 2010 at 12:53 am

    i love a good laksa and make them from scratch when i can but have been trying to find a good paste i live in portsmouth and cant find any in any of the asia shops any one a good site i can order a good one from

  24. 25
    Justin Ling
    April 25th, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    I got some paste with me! I’ve not open then, i could sell them to you if you come down to town? (Central London?)

    i’ve tried searching for the sarawak laksa paste all over town and i can’t locate them. on a recent trip back to Borneo – i manage to get some back to London.

    and i’m trying my version 2.0 of Sarawak Laksa today! Hope it will be a success. So if you want some pasta – and if i still got some i can give you some :)

  25. 26
    Joe
    April 28th, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    how come the “Swallow” brand de laksa now is not that delicious ,last time was very good but now isnt good already ….can some body tell need to use what brand de baru delicious

  26. 27
    Richard Wee
    December 28th, 2010 at 1:37 am

    In the days of yore, when I used “Swallow” brand laksa paste, I used to dump it together with the prawn head, shell, and chicken bones in a pressure cooker with just enough water to submerge all the stuff. Pressure cook for 20 minutes and tapis. Just sharing!

  27. 28
    Kate
    March 15th, 2011 at 7:47 am

    Hi
    It look so delicious!! I would like to try to make the Sarawak Laksa – can you tell me where to buy the paste. I live in Sydney.

    Regards
    Kate

  28. 29
    pablopabla
    March 15th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Kate : I’m afraid I have n information where you could buy the paste in Sydney. Would the authorities allow you to have this couriered / shipped to you?

  29. 31
    Esther
    November 15th, 2011 at 3:26 am

    I made this today following the recipe and added some belacan, dried chillies and chicken stock powder to it. It came out so yummy!!!!! Going to make this again and again for my family and friends. Thanks for sharing this recipe!!

  30. 32
    Judith
    February 19th, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    Can I know how to make the sambal belacan for Sarawak laksa

  31. 33
    Ailin Tay
    March 24th, 2012 at 12:45 am

    Pablopabla
    Try increasing the amount of laksa paste to 1.2kg-1.8kg; add in spanish onions; lemon grass, belachan, dried chillies (if u want it spicier), pork bones & chicken bone for a richer stock. Enjoy.

    Enjoy your Sarawak laksa as this is what i missed most from Kuching.

  32. 34
    nanie
    March 24th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    1. I find, sieving the paste and throwing them away is a waste. What you do is blend it in the pot using hand blender. It gives your broth a better texture as the secret to the broth is in the paste – far better than removing them.
    2. The easiest way is to blend the cooked prawns head. Sieved it and the add the “prawn juice” in the pot. The sweetness from the prawns gives it a better taste.
    3. There’s no need to swtich on and off the stove – just make sure your fire is on low.
    4. The sambal – tradionally you fry (with no oil) the ground dry chilies with belacan. However you can add galagal and shallots and add a bit of oil when frying. I find it tastes better.

    The broth needs to be constantly heated so best to have it on low heat up to the time you want to serve it.

  33. 35
    martin
    September 8th, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    where can i buy sarawk lakhsa paste in kl grving for it

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