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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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This is a recipe for cucumber (timun in Malay) acha.

Some interesting pickling techniques to note here – salting overnight and weighting, for example. I don’t know much about pickling but learnt quite a few things when reading about Korean kimchee recently, and also the instructions in some macrobiotic cookbooks (pickles are an important part of the macrobiotic diet). For example, the vegetables have to be kept under the surface of the pickling liquid or else there is a chance of spoilage. However, because acha is not pickled for weeks & months, this isn’t so much of problem.

Acha Timun A

Acha Timun B

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There are no vegetables specified in the acha/achar recipes I have posted earlier, however this entry provides some guidance in this area, or simply follow the instruction to use ‘any kind of vegetable available’ :)!

Acha vegetables

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BBQ Sauce

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This was an interesting recipe to try and figure out because of all the unfamiliar names, with non-standard phonetics. They sounded like Cantonese, so I went around asking Cantonese speakers to get some answers. Once I got the English names, it was easy to check up the Chinese characters and double check the pronunciation in Cantonese and Mandarin, thanks to CantoDict.

“Loa may” = 鹵味 = lou5 mei6 [Cantonese] / lu3 wei4 [Mandarin]
My Ee Poh Peggy tells me that this basically refers to a braised dish, and this style of cooking used to be very popular in the past – there were many types of “loa may” dishes. When I visited Taiwan, I came across a lot of
鹵味 lu3 wei4 dishes, especially 鹵肉販 lu3 rou4 fan4, which is bits of soya-sauce-braised pork fat spooned over your bowl of white rice as an alternative to plain white rice to eat with various small dishes. It’s harder to find lard cubes in health-conscious Singapore these days, as compared to the 1960s.

“Yin sye mai” = = jyun4 seoi1 mai5 [Cantonese] / yuan2 sui1 mi3[Mandarin] = coriander seed

“Park-kork” = 八角 = baat3 gok3 [Cantonese] / ba1 jiao3 [Mandarin] = star anise

“Kwai phay” = 桂皮 = gwai3 pei4 [Cantonese] /gui4 pi2 [Mandarin] = cinnamon
This was the hard one,
not everyone knew it and the ‘phay’ [skin] part of the phrase made us guess all sorts of other things, such as lemon peel, which didn’t sound right in the context of this recipe.

Chicken Loa May A

Chicken Loa May B

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‘Timpra’ is also spelt ‘tempra’, and in The New Mrs Lee’s Cookbook Vol. 2: Straits Heritage Cuisine, the sourness in the dish comes from lime juice rather than vinegar.

Timpra

Chicken Timpra

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Chicken Satay

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