Gary Cheong wrote --
"Penang's laksa is not the Singaporean version that Natasha is looking for. The broth is tamarind based instead of the coconut milk based. My preference is for the Singaporean version.
I'd be curious to see what your Indonesian recipe is like".
Use about a half-pound of fish - or fish balls -and/or chicken breast cut up.
¾ lb. of shrimp -try to get the tasty ones.
2 cups water
11/2 lb. of moist Laksa noodles or a pound of Chinese rice noodles
¼ lb. bean sprouts
One cucumber cut into fine strips about 1 inch long.
Mint or coriander leaves.
----------- For the gravy ------------
I onion -medium or a stick of lemon grass.
A couple of slices of galanga (hot ginger) -you can use some "laos" powder to sub.
A couple of hot Thai red chilies or some soaked dry red chillies.
A piece of fresh turmeric or a teaspoon of powdered turmeric
A half dozen macadamia nuts
½ teaspoon "blacan" -dry shrimp paste.
1/8-cup dry shrimp - soak them and process to a paste.
2 teaspoons coriander -ground.
4 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
Coconut cream or milk -frozen or whatever you can find. Make up about 4 cups.
Pinch of salt to taste -msg -if you like it.
Cook the chicken or fish five minutes at the boil, add the shrimp -cook for two minutes and drain. Keep the stock. . Boil the noodles in water for 3 minutes drain and put aside. (Toss the water).
Gravy -process or grind the first seven gravy ingredients together. Use a little vegetable oil to help -if necessary. Process in the coriander. Heat up the oil in a sauce pan and stir fry up the processed ingredients Add the coconut milk and the shrimp stock, a pinch of salt and msg and stir with heat to a consistency of a thick gravy.
Put the cooked noodles into individual bowls. Drop a handful of bean sprouts on top. Divide up the fish and or chicken and shrimp. Cover the pile with the hot gravy. Garnish it with the chopped mint or chopped coriander leaves and the matchstick cucumber and some additional matchstick chillies -if you wish. I also quarter up a hard-boiled egg and garnish with that and with some fresh fried shrimp crackers. Sometimes I squeeze a lime over the pile. Add some sambal -if you want it hotter. I fool with the ingredients to suit myself -sometimes I use a couple tablespoons of peanut butter in the gravy.
Dig in and enjoy. This is a great winter dish.
re: Gary Cheong
Gary -- By all means --try it. Be inventive --- add some sliced up Chinese sausage, some congeled duck's blood, crab meat, mussels, clam meat, etc. The Chinese markets sell bags of frozen seafood bits and pieces. That can be a base for the Laksa.
The shrimp crackers are a good crunchy contrast to the noodles. The Boston places never serve them.
As far as the coconut goes, I like the frozen coconut cream from the Chinese markets. I defrost it and thin it out with water to make the milk. You can finely grate coconut meat and extract the milk with water --but its tedious work. Canned coconut milk or cream is also a possibility.
I discovered Indonesian food in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Laksa became my favorite fast food lunch. This recipe tastes similar to what I ate many times in the "Sukisari" --a little store front place off the Dam on the way to the Red Light District.I do not recall the fancy Indonesian Ristaffle restaurants like the Bali offering Laksa --its more of a home cooking item.
Have a great New Year --everybody --though Asian folk are a couple of thousand years "ahead" of us occidentals.