Laksa, a spicy noodle soup staple in the Peranakan cuisine which traces all the way back to Urdu/Persian roots. The word Laksa varies in few translation. Some say it may have derived from the Sanskrit lakshas meaning “one hundred thousand”. Other studies have suggested that “laksa” may have derived from the Cantonese dialect of the Chinese people which means “spicy sand”. It is quite a literal meaning as the laksa sauce has a sandy/gritty texture that comes from the ground dried prawns. But now, the latest decipherment of Laksa has emerge from this pure Baba, Uncle John, who is still alive. He was born in the Golden Era, and currently living in his golden age at 72.
''Eunice, do you know how did the the name 'Laksa' come about?'' asked Uncle John.
The question did triggered me to think a little.
But nope, after flossing my mental I still couldn't find any vague information about the how the name 'Laksa' come about or why is it being called Laksa. We just follow as how the elderly calls it. I think to myself. Then I looked at him, puzzled.
''The word 'Laksa', in Hokkien means six three.'' Uncle John continues.
I nodded, as a gesture of agreement.
''.... and perhaps long time ago, the shop that sells
this spicy soup may bear the house number '63' . Whenever anyone ask the question, 'hey, where do you want to eat?', one will answer the number address of the shop instead of the type/name of this particular spicy soup noodle... hence the name 'Lak-sa' ''.
This story echoes in my mind.
So, did the origin of the name came from Sanskrit, Cantonese or the living Baba,Uncle John? It matters not because this dish is known everywhere and is a must try dish, especially if you are visiting Malaysia.
|This is Uncle John, puffing his cigarette while he slowly unfolds the story of the Nyonya dishes which he held close to his heart.|
The Laksa Lemak is also known as Nyonya Laksa. Lemak in the native language of Malaysian refers to rich coconut milk that is added into the laksa soup to add a certain richness to the dish. The nyonya laksa is rich, slightly sweet and strongly spiced. Spices or else better known as rempah is a must in nyonya cusines, this applies to nyonya laksa as well. Four of the most important rempah for a perfect nyonya laksa includes daun kesum(laksa leaves), bunga kantan(ginger flower buds), gelanggal and lemongrass. No laksa is complete without these four key ingredients. Besides the four, chilies, onion and garlic is pounded together to make the stock for the soup.
A breakdown of what goes into your aromatic, flavorful bowl of laksa will get you hungry even before you are done reading this.
Heavily spiced curry-like soup (not to be mistaken with Penang’s curry mee). Apart from chicken and prawn slices, the soup contains coconut milk, ginger bud and tamarind apple slices. All of that gets you the unique taste of the nyonya laksa. Bean sprouts is the only vegetable used in nyonya laksa with big, puffy bean curd puff. The dish is served with thick or thin rice vermicelli. Yellow noodle may be used as well. Eggs! Glorious hard-boiled eggs is added because let’s face it, who doesn’t love eggs? Fish balls, cucumber and lastly, slices of fish cake, prawns and/or shredded chicken is thrown into the mixture.
Here in KL, we have Limapulo – Baba Can Cook; an authentic Nyonya restaurant where we meet Uncle John, the founder and the only pure baba left.
According to Uncle John, the uniqueness of this spicy soup is that it does not make use of any curry powder. It requires long tedious hours to cook and is made up of at least eight herbs and condiments, hence the complex, rich, fragrant and titillating taste. He also stresses that no additives has been added in the making of this Nyonya Laksa. The rempah used are all pounded using pestle and mortar to ensure the authenticity of the dish. Worry not when it comes to taste bud disappointments as Uncle John promises non-compromised authentic Nyonya Laksa if you visit Limapulo.
All info are collected from Uncle John, the most humble man on earth, the master chef behind the Nyonya Restaurant tucked in Kuala Lumpur - namely Limapulo. Uncle John is all about his family’s well-guarded recipe and well-executed food. A visit to Limapulo not only gets you good food, it also comes with great company. Uncle John is the most humble man you will ever come across. Chat away with Uncle John about his delicacies.
Limapulo by BabaCanCook
26 Jalan Doraisamy
03 2698 3268