Sarawak Laksa: The Star Dish Of Malaysia

Sarawak laksa, which is closely linked to other laksa variants, is distinguished by a delicate, mild flavour. The soup is served with vermicelli noodles, shredded omelette, cooked prawns, and shredded chicken, and consists of a savoury chicken or shrimp-based broth that is seasoned with thick laksa paste, which occasionally contains more than twenty distinct ingredients. 

Traditionally, sambal and lime are served separately. Sarawak laksa's beginnings are still unknown, but it is thought that they began in 1945 when Goh Lik Teck started selling his noodle dish on Carpenter Street in Kuching. The thick paste used in the dish, it is widely believed, was made famous during the 1960s and 1970s by the Tan family from Kuching. Tan Yong Him experimented with herbs and spices to create a basic paste, which he later distributed under the brand name Swallow. The product was soon picked up by many vendors, who then included Sarawak laksa on their menus. Today, it is a signature dish of Sarawak and the city of Kuching. 

Each state in Malaysia offers a unique gastronomic experience and puts its own unique spin on popular meals. This recipe for Sarawak laksa features complex flavours that result from the delicious blending of spice paste and santan. 


For Sambal: 

10 red chillies 

2 big onions 

1 garlic clove   

50g dried prawns 

6-8tbsp palm oil 

For Spice paste: 

150g shallots 

125g garlic 

150g galangal 

30g red chillies 

4 stalks lemongrass, white part only 

10 dried chillies, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes 

30g candlenuts 

20g cumin seeds 

55g coriander seeds 

3 star anise, dry roasted and ground 

4 cloves, dry roasted and ground 

1 nutmeg, ground 

5 cardamoms, seeds only 

10-12 tbsp palm oil 

1/2cup sesame seeds, roasted and ground 

110g peanuts, roasted and ground 

1tbsp curry powder, heaped 

2-3tsp salt, or to taste 

2tbsp sugar 

1.5litres chicken and prawn stock 

350ml santan sawit 

400g vermicelli, scalded 

For Spice paste: 

5-6 calamansi limes, halved 

1bunch coriander leaves 

200g beansprouts 

1 cucumber, shredded 

350g chicken meat, boiled and shredded 

500g prawns, marinated in sugar and cooked 

Method: To make sambal: All ingredients—except oil—should be finely blended. The paste is sautéed in hot oil in a nonstick skillet until aromatic and the oil separates. Place aside. 

For spice paste: Combine all the ingredients to a fine paste, excluding the oil, sesame seeds, peanuts, curry powder, and spice. Add the other ingredients after cooking the spice paste in hot oil until aromatic. 

For gravy: Stock and santan should be added to the spice paste in a big saucepan. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat. If necessary, add more stock to change the consistency. 

Serving: Place vermicelli in bowls, then top with gravy. Add garnishes on top.