If you’re not in Sarawak, the phrase ‘Sarawak laksa’ is always followed by the word ‘party’. The only way to eat laksa is with a group of friends, preferably Malaysians. I count several West Malaysians as my close friends, and we often debate the merits of the various versions of laksa you find in Malaysia (e.g. Penang laksa, curry laksa, assam laksa, etc), but in my books, no other laksa comes even close to the sheer deliciousness of Sarawak laksa.
To have a laksa party, you have to procure some laksa paste. You have to beg, steal or bring some back from Kuching because you cannot buy these for love or money outside of Sarawak. Luckily, most Sarawakians have a well-developed network to maintain their precious stash (fingers crossed that my laksa shipment actually gets here, – does anyone know how reputable PosLaju is?).
It takes almost as much time and effort to make laksa to feed 2 people than to feed 10, so you might as well make a whole bunch of people happy.
Ingredients:(to feed 10 adults):
900g Sarawak laksa paste (laksa paste comes in 300g & 600g packs, – this makes a thick and more spicy gravy, for a thinner gravy, use 600g. )
2kg free-range chicken pieces (I used 1½ whole chickens)
1.5kg tiger prawns, shell on, remove heads of ⅔ to use to make laksa soup
300ml coconut cream
500g bean sprouts
500g rice vermicelli
3 limes or lemons
a bunch of coriander
For the laksa soup, – first, simmer the chicken in 4 litres of water for 1.5 hours. Remove chicken, skim off oil, and then add laksa paste and raw prawn heads to the stock. Simmer for a further 2 hours. Sieve the soup and discard the solids. Season with salt to taste.
While the soup is cooking, prepare the condiments. Make the omelettes by whisking the eggs together with 2 tablespoons of water, salt and pepper, and cooking batches in a non-stick pan. Cut the omelettes into short strips.
Shred the poached chicken. Poach the prawns, and blanch the rice vermicelli and bean sprouts. These tasks always take longer than you expect; you have been warned.
Cut the limes into wedges, and chop the coriander to use as garnish.
To serve, put some rice vermicelli in a bowl, topped with omelette strips, chicken, beansprouts and prawns. Pour the soup over the ingredients, garnish with coriander and squeeze some lime juice.