Lost and found…

We were schoolmates, 1970 to 1971, and we were even in a play together…

All the world's a stage

…for the 3rd Division Drama Festival for Schools. Here in Sarawak, we have divisions that are made up of several districts – there were only five then and they all went by numbers. Sibu was in the 3rd and today, it has been divided into the Sibu, Sarikei, Kapit and Mukah Divisions. Anyway, back to my long-lost friend, we managed to get in touch with each other after all these years via Facebook. Isn’t that nice? Something like that show on TV at one time, Jejak Kasih. LOL!!!

I found out that her hubby was in the Sarawak laksa paste business and she even offered to send me a packet to try. However, I told her that there wasn’t any need for her to go through all that trouble as I had seen it at a supermarket here and I could just go and grab a pack (RM10.90) myself…

MUSC Raja Laut Sarawak laksa paste

…and that was exactly what I did last Friday so I could cook for my girl who would be coming home that very afternoon.

Needless to say, it was a whole lot of work preparing everything…

Sarawak laksa ingredients

I had blogged about it here but anyway, to go through all that again, in case anyone would like to cook his or her own, first, I peeled and deveined the prawns (1 kg) and boiled them in 1 litre of water, keeping the stock and putting the crustaceans aside to be served with the laksa later…

STP's Sarawak laksa 1

When I went to the market that morning, I saw someone I knew filleting fish, the mother of one of ex-students – bay kar/ikan tenggiri (mackerel) no less and selling at only RM20 for one big bag of it. I grabbed one and my missus used it to make fish balls…

STP's Sarawak laksa 2

– and fish cakes, a whole lot of them. I added the water that she used to boil them to the aforementioned prawn stock as well.

I also boiled the heads and shell of the prawns in the stock for 10-15 minutes and then removed them. After that, I added another 2 litres of water to the stock and emptied the contents of the packet of laksa paste into it and brought it back to boil, leaving it to simmer for 30 minutes. In the meantime, my missus and I could cut the tofu pok (fried bean curd puffs) into thin strips – I bought RM1 of those and got 7 of them, chop the daun sup (Chinese celery), soak the bihun (rice vermicelli) to soften and blanch the taugeh (bean sprouts), RM2 of the ones sold with the tails removed. I am always too lazy to do that myself.

When the gravy was ready, I sieved it to remove the residue and added santan (coconut milk) to it, plus two cubes of ikan bilisΒ (dried anchovies) stock, turning off the fire once I had brought it back to boil. Then, I fried some omelette and sliced it very very thinly and I also pounded some sambal belacan (dried prawn paste dip) to go with the laksa

STP's Sarawak laksa

It was very very nice and we certainly had a feast of our very own local Sarawak delight that day.

For one thing, one could cook so much using one packet of the paste – too much for a family of three but I gave some to my in-laws to enjoy as well. I wish they would make it available in smaller packs, half the size perhaps. My missus said that it was kind of different from the usual Sarawak laksa taste that we are more accustomed to…and I would agree. This is more like what one would get, eating Sarawak laksa at the Malay stalls, which is great too (if you go to the right stalls/shops). Originally, Sarawak laksa is quintessentially a local Chinese culinary specialty and it impressed Anthony Bourdain so much that it was given special mention in his book

Anthony Bourdain's book
*Archive photo*

…and it would be featured in the menu at his own street-food market in New York, no…not Penang asam laksa…nor the nyonya curry laksa, but our very own good ol’ Sarawak or Kuching laksa! If you have not heard or read about that, don’t just take my word for it – click the link and read all about it! Hehehehehehe!!!!

Going back to the laksa paste, these days, we have some certified halal ones like this one that I used and like the regular ones, there may be good ones and those that are not as great, which is the case with everything else including what you can get when you eat out at the stalls or shops outside, so one would need to know which brand(s) to buy and I would say this one is pretty good. Yes, I can say, with no reservations whatsoever, that I wouldn’t mind using it…if and when I would be in the mood to go through the whole process all over again.

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Author: suituapui

Ancient relic but very young at heart. Enjoys food and cooking...and travelling and being with friends.

34 thoughts on “Lost and found…”

  1. Looks really good but i am more interested in trying the home-made fish balls :p

    Never tried myself but it didn’t look difficult – the way my missus did it. You would need to know how to fillet the fish though – remove the bones, skin and head. Some fishmongers here will do it for you upon request.

  2. That’s a very good teamwork between you and the mrs. I agree with Ken. I’m keen to try those fish balls. You made it sound like as if making fishballs and fishcakes is a piece of cake. I’ve never make them myself and I can’t imagine the hassle we have to go through to make them bouncy, doink doink. Back to the laksa, I love Sarawak Laksa and yes, I like mine with bihun too πŸ˜€

    It HAS to be with bihun – dunno why the made-in-Kuching instant ones come with noodles. Definitely not the same. 😦

    Yes, it certainly looked easy – how my missus did it. I always thought people would pound the fish using lesung batu but my missus just chopped with a cleaver, adding a bit of salt water (maybe a bit of cornflour too, not sure) but there was a whole lot of slamming on the chopping board – the way we would slam dough to remove the air spaces…and then dropped the balls/cakes into boiling water. I would think the hardest part would be to fillet the fish…and that was all done already.

  3. No joking, really need to prepare so many ingredients. I see also I get tired. I could not take my eyes off those prawns in that bowl of noodle – delicious!

    Now you know why many people in Kuching don’t know how to cook Sarawak laksa…or they are not bothered to do so as they can get very nice Sarawak laksa at the shops outside. Here, only very lately, we can get not-too-bad ones. The spicy delight did not go down too well with the Foochows in the past – but they’re changing…gradually.

    Not cheap – those special BIG prawns, RM35 a kg….but big when not cooked, shrank so terribly after boiling.

  4. you’re right.. it IS and looks like a whole lot of work preparing everything. But its all worth it, for your daughter and all. πŸ˜€

    Of course. You don’t feel it is a chore, anything that it’s done out of love and so rewardingly satisfying when you see the loved one enjoying it!

  5. love the 1970s photo … it’s great that you’ve stored it and kept it well after all these decades. nowadays i guess it’s easier to always snap photos digitally and keep them online, but those precious snapshots from yesterdays somehow seem more precious than ever πŸ™‚ and the prawn-y laksa looks and sounds great … terrific job on that! πŸ™‚

    Yes, the laksa was good. Now everyone’s going into the Photo Book, I’ve noticed. Would be very convenient to keep a hard copy of all the snapshots like that, I reckon…and much nicer than looking at them on a screen. Guess it’s something like reading a real book…and reading it on a tablet.

  6. I love that feeling when you find your long lost friend in FB! I had found most of them but one of my best friends back in Grade school still is missing, I wonder where he is right now.

    Yes, I’ve been “found” on Facebook by a lot of old acquaintances. My first batch of students – 1978 is holding a reunion in December and they’ve invited me. Another batch is holding theirs sometime next year – they just had one for this year…but they had not found me yet at the time.

  7. Wow! Rated 6star laksa so much good ingredients n the fish balls is looking so appealing! n the bag of mackerel fillets is so cheap, I wish they sell here too but we can only buy them in cutlets n not even as whole fish as far as I know.

    They were in cutlets in the bag – head, skin and bone removed. The lady said we could slice and fry as “hu phee” (fish fillet) or use to make fish balls. She used the small mackerel – a bit bigger than kembong. I guess those would be cheaper…but imagine all the work to fillet them all. She said the smaller it is, the nicer…and indeed, the fish balls were really very good.

  8. So so so nice! Look at that big casserole of prawns! Homemade fish balls, fish cakes, prawn soup, Mel is truly lucky.. You use a lot of ‘hor liew’, I think I can eat 5 bowls of noodles!

    We had for lunch and for dinner but everybody else had a bowl each…except me – I had two. That was why there was enough to share with my in-laws too! Lots to go around!

  9. When are you cooking it again? Dont forget to invite me! ^^

    I agreed it takes lot of works to prepare laksa. Seen my mum prepare before when I were young. But the joy of taking as much ingredients as you want into your bowl is beyond words. Lol.

    Quite typical of nyonya cooking, a labour of love. I think this comes under Kuching nyonya cuisine. I knew one lady there who made great curry powder too. Ya, should have asked you to come over for some – so much…enough to feed an army!!!

    1. And yahoo to our Sarawak Laksa for making it international. Anthony Bourdain! I love him.

      Sure makes us proud, eh? It was in Masterchef Australia too, not too long ago:

  10. Say Yahooooooooo!!!!….to our Sarawak laksa. That’s a lot of tedious work involved but it is worth the sweat especially preparing for loved ones & family. Looks absolutely yummy with all the ingredients and what not the extra add of fishballs. Super duper yummyyyyyy!!!!!…..

    Yes, it was our no-meat Friday so no chicken. Would have included thin shredded chicken strips, otherwise.

  11. Oh ya, I forgot to mention about that handsome young man with black coat in the 1st pix. Looks familiar, hehehe!!!!

    He does look familiar, hor? I wonder who he is, so handsome. Hehehehehe!!!!!

  12. Not really notice whether we have this paste here or not. Will keep an eye out for this when am in supermarket

    Not available at the supermarkets there, I’m sure. In fact, I don’t think any would stock up on laksa paste, any brand. My friend’s son in Cheras has some stock but I’ve lost his contact. You can try these two ladies: re. comment from my friend –
    “…there is another person who offers to sell our laksa paste in KL. It is Ms Chew @ 012 788 2329,
    other than Cindy Chong (our CEO’s sister – now still in China – back in one week) @ 012 206 68500
    …”

  13. Looks like you put on some make up on your face.. the thick eyelashes and eye shadow perhaps? hehehe… and your hair! So “brycream-ed” hahahaa.. my kids used to comb like that when they were schooling!
    About the curry laksa, I could not see the soup clearly… it looks a bit dark here.. but the toppings are really attractive!! Full to the brim!

    Correction!!! It’s Sarawak or Kuching laksa, not the same as curry laksa. Worlds apart! Not so lemak, many do not like it too lemak – said like curry, should not be like that.

    If you click the link to the previous time I cooked it, you can see the gravy – one whole pot of it. Did not take the photo of that again this time. Normally, we would put the bihun in the bowl, add all the condiments and then pour the gravy over everything…but like that, not so “photogenic”. What you see here is mainly for “display” purposes. Can see the gravy a bit lah…

    Yes, when you go on stage, with the bright spotlights, you have to put on make up so as not to look pale and sickly…like a ghost!

  14. Saw the picture of the laksa paste from your fb, so I started to hunt it down to the supermarket. I didn’t found any. Is it only sell in Sibu?

    It’s actually made in Kuching, Jalan Bako! Here’s my friend’s comment in reply to someone who asked:
    “…
    di Kuching di Supermarket Evergreen or Emart…” No problem at all getting it here.,..but none at Giant!

  15. Wah, an actor eh? Wonder what play was that πŸ™‚ It sure looks like a lot of work preparing the Sarawak Laksa. Thank goodness for the ready made paste of else it is even more work. I must make it a point to taste this very famous laksa!

    There’s Auntie Christina at Bangsar. I hear hers is as good as any – she’s from Kuching!
    Here’s a blogger-friend’s post on it:

    http://www.clevermunkey.com/2011/12/aunt-christinas-sarawak-laksa-lucky.html

  16. Your laksa looks heavenly, and I’m sure it tastes heavenly, too. Gosh! The amount of work involved, but I guess the end result is more than worth it. I haven’t tried making laksa yet, but I just might after reading this. I sometimes make my own fish balls, using bay kar. The best ikan tenggiri for making fish balls are the smaller ones with spots on them. The slamming part can be a bit tiring, but then you won’t get the springy texture without doing that.
    I must go look for that brand of laksa pasteπŸ˜€.

    Yes, that was the bay kar the lady was filleting – about a foot or so long each, and she did say the small ones would be much nicer. So tedious having to do all that, and so many. I thought RM20 for one whole bag of it was so cheap, very reasonable. Good luck in your attempt! πŸ˜‰

  17. that’s the wonder of internet and social media!!!
    your laksa seems so comforting and tasty….

    Yes, it was good. It depends very much on the brand of the laksa paste used since we do not make it from scratch. Been looking for a good one – this one’s pretty good.

  18. Oh, halal Sarawak Laksa paste. Maybe next time i can buy and give to my colleagues to try.

    So much work to cook laksa! That’s why i don’t bother to learn how to cook it, just go out and eat. kekekekekekke

    Yes, very much easier…and you will not be eating too much too. Great to share though, can have laksa party. Nice!

  19. It’s always so fun and nostalgic when you’ve got into contact with a long-lost friend again. I love the photo at the beginning of the post πŸ™‚ Whenever I visit my mom, I would sift through her “vintage” photos from when she was younger – I love them!

    We all love doing that, don’t we? I’ve my family group on Facebook and ever so often, somebody would share a photo from God knows when and everybody would get excited, sharing all the memories that the photo would stir up.

  20. LOVE the photo from your past! Very nice πŸ™‚ I need to start posting some of my older photos and I have been meaning to post some genology pics, too!

    LOL!!! Sure great for recalling fond memories of the past.

  21. Hahaha, when I first saw this black and white photo, I thought it was from an old local movie still…P Ramlee movie? I thought..

    Wow! Everything made from scratch! And homemade fishball..your bowl of laksa look so good! You’re one lucky girl, Melissa. πŸ˜€

    Penang Assam laksa, nyonya curry laksa, Sarawak laksa…each unique in its own way and all also I like! πŸ˜‹

    I don’t mind taking part in a P Ramlee remake – a musical perhaps with all my favourite songs – Dengar cerita ini, Bila mama pakai celana, Madu Tiga… πŸ˜€

  22. Nice bowl of laksa… Have tried a few brands but not satisfactory but not this brand though . Still missed the old brand. Homemade laksa paste taste will be slightly different but close to what we liked .. Thanks for dropping by my blog .

    My pleasure. Yes, sad that the good ol’ brand is no longer as great as it originally was…since the children took over, change in brand name and all that – it just isn’t the same anymore. 😦

All opinions expressed in my blog are solely my own, that is my prerogative - you may or may not agree, that is yours. To each his/her own.

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