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Archive for the ‘saffron’ 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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A whole series of acha (achar) recipes starting from today. We can think of acha as the local version of the pickled onions/cauliflower recipes I posted earlier.

Acha recipes labelled ‘Penang’ and ‘Malacca’, illustrate the regional differences and the very Straits Settlements-based nature of these Straits Chinese acha recipes.

The vegetables are not specified, but cucumber, carrots, cauliflower and cabbage are common ones to use for acha.

I’m not certain if ‘saffron juice’ in fact refers to the more commonly-used turmeric (kunyit), as the two are both yellow spices and often confused with each other. See my notes in the Malacca acha recipe.

Acha Penang

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Mesak Assam

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I’ve never tried bitter gourd cooked this way even though bitter gourd has been a long-standing staple on our family dining table. Since the time she was in her eighties, my grandmother ate bitter gourd at least once a day. Ah Kum-che, our black and white amah, always cooked it stir-fried with sliced beef and black beans. However after Ah Kum-che retired, the bitter gourd was cooked more simply, stir-fried plain with just chopped garlic. In more recent years, the tiny, extra-bitter bitter gourd has become widely available and my grandmother preferred them to the normal, large bitter gourd, which she pronounced as ‘tasteless’. People often asked what my grandmother’s secret to good health and longevity was, and perhaps one can say ‘a bitter gourd a day keeps the doctor away’ :)!

Bitter gourd is known to lower blood pressure, and drinking raw bitter gourd juice daily can help those with a high blood pressure problem. It’s also a cooling food. So perhaps not the thing for those with low blood pressure and constitution that is too ‘liang’.

No, I haven’t left out the instructions, there just aren’t any :/.

Salt Fish Bitter Gourd

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A very popular Nonya standard, which is reflected here by the folded bottom right-hand corner to bookmark the page! It’s also one of my all-time favourite dishes.

Notice how grandmother has added the local term ‘buah keluak’ to the original ‘opium-fruit’, and changed the chicken to pork. This in a more shaky hand and ball-point pen indicating that it was done much later than the original writing (which used fountain pen), perhaps in the last few years?

The mysterious sak-luk makes another appearance. [NB: See answer on ‘Unfamiliar Ingredients’ page.]

Once again, you’ll have to ‘agak-agak‘ your own quantities – good luck!

Buah Keluak curry

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