Traverse Flavors of Laksa Across Southeast Asia
When you hear this food, Singapore or Malaysia probably comes to your mind the most. In fact, there are several countries in Southeast Asia that have this type of food. While the origins of Laksa are uncertain, most people agree that the dish emerged from the Southeast Asian spice trade that flourished in the 16th century. At that time, Chinese traders mingled with local communities in the Malay archipelago, now known as Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. However, you can also find laksa in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar.
Regardless of its history, Laksa is one of the must-try foods when traveling to countries in Southeast Asia. Because despite having the same name, the laksa in these countries is different. Let's find it out!
There are several types of laksa in Indonesia, each with its own unique flavor and ingredients. Laksa Bogor is a curry laksa that has a thick yellowish coconut milk-based soup with a distinctive nutty flavor from the ‘oncom’. Laksa Betawi is a thick yellowish coconut milk-based soup with shallot, garlic, turmeric, galangal, lemongrass, salam leaf, and kaffir lime leaf. Laksa Banjar is a sour and spicy fish soup with noodles. Laksa Medan is a spicy noodle soup with a sour and savory broth made from tamarind, lemongrass, and ginger.
Then, there are also Laksa Palembang that is a sour and spicy fish soup with noodles that is made with tamarind, lemongrass, and ginger. Laksa Tangerang is a curry laksa that has a thick yellowish coconut milk-based soup with a distinctive nutty flavor from the ‘oncom’. Each type of laksa has its own unique blend of spices and herbs, which gives it a distinct flavor. Indonesia as one of the countries rich in spices makes food in this country one of the things you must try when traveling to Indonesia.
Malaysia also has many types of laksa that you should try. In general, there are 2 different types of laksa depending on the base soup used. There is curry laksa with coconut curry soup with noodles, while assam laksa is a sour fish soup with noodles. In curry laksa, the main ingredients for most versions of curry laksa are usually seafood or processed seafood. As for assam laksa, this soup is number 7 on CNN's list of the 50 most delicious foods in the world in 2011. The sour taste of this soup comes from tamarind, kemping tamarind, or dried mangosteen slices. The main ingredients for asam laksa are usually shredded fish and finely sliced vegetables.
Both types of laksa are also usually served with thick or thin rice noodles. These two types of laksa also have several variants in them. Sour laksa has variants such as Penang laksa, Perlis laksa, Kedah laksa, Ipoh laksa, and kuala Kangsar laksa. As for curry laksa, some variants include laksa lemak and laksam. On the other hand, there are also variants of laksa that can be included in curry or asam laksa, including Laksa Johor, Laksa Sarawak, and Laksa Kelantan. With so many variants, these laksa variants are a must-try menu when you are on vacation in Malaysia.
Laksa is a popular dish in both Singapore and Malaysia, but there are some differences between the two. Laksa in Singapore is characterized by short, bite-sized chunks of noodles that can be eaten with a spoon rather than chopsticks, and it is typically served with bean sprouts, prawns, shredded chicken breast or boiled pork slices, fried tofu puffs, cockles, and long beans. On the other hand, laksa in Malaysia is typically made with a coconut milk-based curry broth and is served with thick rice noodles and garnished with pineapple and prawn paste. The taste of laksa can vary depending on the region and the ingredients used, but it is generally a spicy noodle soup with a flavorful broth and a variety of toppings.
Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar
In Thailand, laksa is not the country's traditional dish. Neither is it in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. But in Thailand, there are several variations of this dish in southern Thailand, influenced by Laksa Lemak, a Malaysian dish. One example is Thai Chicken Laksa, which is a spicy coconut milk-based dish served with noodles, protein and fresh, crunchy toppings. Then, there's Kaho Soi Joy, a Northern Thai laksa that has similarities to laksa in Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. In Laos itself, there is Kaho Poon, a type of laksa made with chicken, coconut milk and vermicelli. Although laksa is also popular in these countries, it is not a traditional food there. However, laksa in these countries can also be your preference because despite having the same name, each place has a different flavor. Have a good try!
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