Archive for the ‘candlenut (buah keras/sak luk)’ Category

This laksa recipe is clearly labelled ‘laksa lemak’, to distinguish it from the completely different dish of Penang laksa. I’ve heard that every region in Malaysia has its own style of making laksa, but still, the basic difference would be whether it has coconut milk (lemak) or is the sourish, fishy version (Penang style, closer to Thai laksa).

Along with poh piah, this is one of my all-time favourite dishes. We still eat it regularly at home.

In the last ten years, my grandmother – always one to keep up with new thinking on healthy eating – replaced the high-cholesterol coconut milk with tinned evaporated milk. It works very well and you don’t actually notice the difference. However, I’ve started reading the labels on tins and found that evaporated milk has a lot of added ingredients which aren’t milk at all! In future, I’d like to try to adapt the family recipe with some other coconut milk replacement instead.

The original recipe also calls for you to make your own fishballs, but I can’t remember my family doing this; we usually just bought ready-made fishballs from the (super)market. These days I myself don’t eat ready-made fishballs or fishcakes because they tend to contain MSG and chemical preservatives.

Another interesting adaptation in my grandmother’s notes is the use of spaghetti instead of laksa noodles (1 box for 7-8 people). The original recipe calls for ‘laksa flour’ which I assume refers to flour to make the noodles, a kind of thick beehoon. As it’s not so easy to get laksa beehoon, spaghetti is the most convenient alternative with a similar shape.

‘Daum Kesum’ is also known as laksa leaf. My dad dislikes the taste of any kind of little leafy garnishings but I believe that laksa just doesn’t taste right without these leaves. ‘Saffron’ is listed here, but as I noted in another posting, I think it really refers to turmeric. You can see in the alternative ingredients/quantities list at the end, it’s called ‘kunyit’, which is turmeric. And don’t forget, ‘D. Prawns’ refers to dried prawns for pounding to make the rempah, whereas the fresh prawns are for eating whole/sliced together with the noodles.

As for the alternative list of quantities (dated 1960) at the end of the recipe, you’ll have to experiment and decide which set of quantities works best for you.

Laksa Lemak PtA

Laksa Lemak B

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Malacca acha (achar) here, as compared to yesterday’s recipe for Penang acha.

The use of the word ‘kunit’ here for tumeric, makes me wonder if the ‘saffron water’ in the Penang acha recipe actually refers to turmeric, as saffron and turmeric are often confused with each other. Despite being both being yellow spices, they are in fact different plants.

The type of nuts are not specified, but I would guess that groundnuts or peanuts would be the type used. As with the Penang acha recipe, you are left to decide what vegetables you want to use.

Acha Malacca

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I have finally conclusively identified the mysterious sak luk ingredient. My hunch proved to be correct.

This is what I’ve put up on the ‘Unfamiliar Ingredients’ page:

sak luk (Cantonese) – solved: 18.5.07
= candlenut/buah keras
= 石栗果 (Cantonese: sek6 leot6 gwo2/ Mandarin: shi2 li4 guo3)
= also known as 石古仔 [used in Patsie Cheong’s bilingual English/Chinese Malaysian recipe books]
My Cantonese relatives said the recipes looked very nonya and didn’t know the answer. My Peranakan relatives said it was a Cantonese word and didn’t know the answer. My koo koo had a strong feeling it was candlenut as she had heard the word before, and guessed from the context of the recipes as I did. Then I went to look at the Chinese translation of Shermay Lee’s ‘The New Mrs Lee’s Cookbook’, and found the Chinese characters for buah keras. Coincidentally, a woman also browsing at the shelf was talking on her handphone in Cantonese, so I cornered her and asked her how to pronounce the Chinese characters in Cantonese :). Double-checked the pronunciation at CantoDict.

Click on the category ‘candlenut (buah keras/sak luk) in the right-hand column to read the history of my sak luk trail :).

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Chicken Satay

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Another dish that’s unfamiliar to me. Perhaps someone can enlighten me on what the name of the dish means? “Tee- take” is also spelt ‘Titek” (for example in Mrs Lee’s Cookbook).

The recipe consists of a rempah (the ingredients in table form), to which is later added the bamboo shoot and eng chye (Hokkien name for the green vegetable also known in Malay as kangkong, and ong choy in Cantonese; ref: The Singlish Dictionary).

Another clue to what sak luk is in this recipe? The fact that it can be counted, rather than having to be weighed, lends further weight to my suspicion that it might be candlenut/buah keras. The ubiquitous presence of sak luk in so many rempah recipes, with no mention of buah keras seems to indicate this. [NB: See answer on ‘Unfamiliar Ingredients’ page.]

Mesak Tee Take

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The dried prawns are used in the rempah, whereas the fresh prawns are used whole to form the main ingredient of the dish. As indicated, eggs can be used instead of fresh prawns as the main focus.

Prawn Sambal

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This is the start of the sambal series. Look out for more sambal recipes over the coming days.

Blimbing Sambal with Prawns

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