Thursday, March 1, 2012
Singapore laksa from the packet: looks good but tastes otherwise.
As you know, I love laksa, any kind of laksa, but my top favorites are Penang assam laksa and Singapore laksa. Both these laksa are elusive here, especially Singapore laksa, so when I found ready-made Singapore and Penang laksa paste in a supermarket recently, I grabbed a box each, made by Alif, a Malaysian company.
Okay, so I had to substitute a number of ingredients. I couldn't find thick rice noodles so I replaced that with flat rice noodles. I don't eat those spongy artificial fishballs from the market and couldn't get the right fish to make them so I had do without, and there were no cockles (terrible, because cockles are just as important as daun kesom in a bowl of Sg laksa) so I bought sa bak, a hard shelled clam. Totally different I know, but it's a clam.
Daun kesom, also known as polygonum leaves (not that it helps because nobody knows what that is outside South East Asia), grows easily. Just buy some (rootless is fine) from the wet market, stick them in a glass of water for a couple of days and then plant in a pot of soil. Needs direct sunlight.
Daun kesom leaves are tough and slightly hairy so they should be cut very fine, almost one-cell thick. Oh, that fragrance!
Nah, back to the kitchen labs you two!
The Alif Sg laksa was utterly disappointing. It smelled and tasted more like Penang laksa, with lots of tumeric and lemon grass and very little coconut milk or belachan or dried shrimps. I immediately searched for the packet of Sg laksa paste I had bought on my previous trip to Sg a few months ago and made another pot of laksa base. Asian Home Gourmet's laksa paste (made in Thailand) was marginally better, stronger in flavor but still far from good. I mixed the two soups together, added extra coconut milk and ate a very disappointing dinner.
Conclusion: eat Singapore laksa in Singapore.
Posted by Terri @ A Daily Obsession at 12:28 PM