In Malaysia, there are six different types of laksa to choose from. Depending on the area, there are a wide range of laksa varieties with either subtle or distinct characteristics. Laksa is one of the most homely and versatile dishes you can find in Malaysia, whether it's at a fancy hotel buffet or a roadside stall.
Here are a few examples of laksas that can be found in various parts of Malaysia. Which of these is your favourite?
Penang Assam Laksa
Long before CNN named it the #7 World's Most Delicious Food, asam laksa drew travellers to Penang just for a taste.
The broth or we called it 'kuah' is a spicy and fish combination that is either loved or despised for its strong sourish taste. This distinct flavour can be attributed to the broth's key ingredients, which also include tamarind, mackerel, and wild ginger.
It is commonly served with rice noodles and herbs and garnishes such as pineapples, shredded cucumber, red chillies, and mint.
You can also able to get these from malls since there are few outlets that actually sells a very delicious Penang Laksa.
Nyonya Laksa is a dish that reflects both Malay and Chinese heritage. Melakan locals refer to it as “laksa lemak,” which hints at its key ingredient. The other variant would be known as curry laksa.
While the key ingredient is also responsible for its flavour, the liberal use of coconut milk is also responsible for Nyonya Laksa having the most calories of any laksa.
Its creamy broth is made with coconut milk, prawn shells, and chicken bones, and it leaves a sweet and tangy aftertaste in the mouth.
A Nyonya Laksa is not complete without fresh prawns, fishcake, fried tofu, and a boiled egg.
Once been labelled as “Breakfast of the Gods” by the late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain and also featured it in the CNN Original Series – “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown” and also “No Reservation”.
Compared to the normal curry laksa, it can be said that Sarawak’s version is slightly subtler and it is favoured by not only Sarawakians but among laksa lovers in the Peninsular as well.
Usually, a typical Laksa Sarawak gravy contains sambal belacan, tamarind, lemongrass, herbs and spices, plus some coconut milk to make it creamy and aromatic.
The main difference between Johor Laksa and other laksas is the use of spaghetti noodles rather than rice noodles.
According to legend, Sultan Abu Bakar, after visiting Europe and enjoying some pasta there, introduced spaghetti into local cuisine.
Whether it's true or not, it's always served in a thick broth with a spicy side of sambal.
Surprisingly, some Johor residents prefer to eat their laksa with their hands rather than with utensils!
Kedah Laksa (Laksa Utara)
Although Kedah has no title in the northernmost states, Kedahans have certainly not stopped naming Laksa Utara as their local laksa.
What makes it different is its use of fresh fish, which are usually caught from several fishing villages along the coast on the same day.
Mackerel or sardines are favourite fish for gravy and they add fragrances to a local daun kesum.
Additionally, prawn paste, coconut sambal and cili padi are often listed among the ingredients, along with the unusual addition of cashew nut leaves.
Kelantan Laksa (Laksam)
“Ikan kembung” or chub mackerels are the preferred fish of choice when cooking Kelantan Laksa, which is boiled before being minced.
It is also common to see Kelantan Laksa served with the aid of "ulam" and mixed chilli, given its Kelantanese origins.