Sarawak Laksa & Paste: A Unique Dish in Sarawak, Malaysia

Now, picture this. You find yourself in the bustling streets of Sarawak, the air dense with the aroma of spices and the sounds of sizzling woks. Amidst the vibrant tapestry of culture and heritage lies a dish that is an absolute treasure—a bowl of Sarawak Laksa.

This culinary masterpiece is unlike any other, with a symphony of flavours that will take your taste buds on the adventure of a lifetime. Imagine slurping up silky rice noodles bathed in a fragrant broth—a mixture of aromatic herbs, spices, and a hint of tanginess—all harmoniously combined to create a sensation that dances on your palate, leaving you craving more.

Be sure to add Sarawak Laksa to your travel itinerary, for it is a dish that truly embodies the spirit of Sarawak and will leave you with unforgettable memories of your Borneo escapade!

Read also: The Best Gifts and Souvenirs from Sarawak, Malaysia

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Sarawak Laksa & Paste: A Unique Dish in Sarawak, Malaysia

What is Sarawak Laksa

Ah, Laksa, a delightful dish that takes us back to the era of long-distance trade in Southeast Asia. Its name, derived from the Sanskrit word ‘lakshah’, meaning one hundred thousand, showcases the diverse cultural influences that contributed to its creation. But let's talk about a particular treasure within the Laksa family—an extraordinary variety known as Sarawak Laksa.

In the enchanting realm of Malaysian cuisine, Sarawak Laksa shines brightest. Its soup is nothing short of a divine blend, where the creaminess of coconut milk meets the tangy allure of tamarind paste. Legend has it that an authentic bowl of Sarawak Laksa incorporates over 20 exquisite ingredients, carefully combined to create a symphony of flavours that dance on the palate. No wonder the late celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, hailed it as the "Breakfast of the Gods" during his Borneo escapade.

But wait, there's more! What sets Sarawak Laksa apart is its audacious departure from tradition. Instead of the usual fish-laden soup, this tantalizing delight breaks the rules and boldly combines chicken and shrimp in its cooking method. The result? A harmonious fusion of succulent meats that will leave you yearning for that next flavourful bite.

Sarawak Laksa
Sarawak Laksa is a unique dish in Malaysia

Types of Laksa in Malaysia

This beloved dish can be beautifully categorised into two tantalising types: curry laksa and asam laksa. The distinction lies within their enchanting soup pastes, where all the magical flavours unfold.

Imagine a warm bowl of curry laksa, with a rich, velvety broth that cocoons your senses. It owes its lusciousness to the star ingredient—coconut milk, which brings forth a creamy and indulgent base. The fragrant spices and aromatic herbs dance harmoniously, creating a symphony of flavours that will transport you to culinary paradise.

On the other hand, we have asam laksa, a delightful variation that takes your taste buds on a tangy adventure. Its captivating essence lies in the primary ingredient of tamarind, which infuses the soup with a delightful sourness and acidity. Every spoonful tantalizes your palate with a burst of tangy goodness, perfectly complemented by the array of herbs and spices that amplify its vibrant flavours.

History of Sarawak Laksa

The first bowl of Sarawak Laksa is believed to be a creation of Goh Lik Teck in the early 1945s along Kuching’s Carpenter Street. He prepared the soup using coconut milk but without curry. Instead, he replaced it with a delightful cocktail of flavours by bringing together tamarind paste, belacan or local shrimp paste, garlic, chillies, galangal, lemongrass and other local spices.

The thick paste quickly gained popularity and was subsequently popularized by the Tan Yong Him’s family in the 1960s to 1970s. After a few tweaks, they eventually created the basic Sarawak Laksa paste which we know today. The paste was distributed under the brand name ‘Swallow’ by the family.

laksa sarawak
Laksa is typically cooked using fish broth, but Sarawak Laksa uses chicken and shrimps instead

Sarawak Laksa Ingredients & Recipe

Today, Sarawak Laksa has been recognized as a signature dish for Sarawak. The dish consists of thin rice vermicelli served in hot soup with shredded chicken and the freshest shrimps. The luscious soup is a playful fusion of coconut milk and tamarind paste, along with local herbs and spices that have been blended into a thick paste. The richness in aroma from the herbs and spices is balanced with the coconut milk that gives a subtle creamy texture. Tangy and tart, the tamarind paste injects hints of sourish notes into the soup.

Sarawak Laksa is served with a garden of colourful toppings, typically consisting of shredded chicken strips, thin omelette strips and fresh coriander leaves. Other popular additions are fried tofu or bean curds, fishcakes and bean sprouts. A small saucer filled with a spicy shrimp paste sambal and calamansi lime is a must-have to complete the dish while taking it to the next level. Every component of the Sarawak Laksa comes together wonderfully to create a symphony of Borneon tastes and aromas.

If you just can’t get enough of this slurp-worthy dish, remember to opt for the ‘special’ version which comes with extra generous portions of shrimps and toppings.

sarawak laksa
Swallow was the first Sarawak Laksa paste brand

Most Popular Traditional Food in Sarawak

When the rain clouds roll in and the sky turns gray, there's one dish that locals in Sarawak turn to for comfort: Sarawak Laksa. This hearty bowl of goodness is not only incredibly filling but also the perfect remedy for those with a hankering for spicy delights.

In fact, Sarawak Laksa has become such a beloved dish that it has earned the title of an all-day breakfast in this part of the world. From the crack of dawn to the late hours of the evening, you'll often find it on the menus of cafes and restaurants across the state. It's the kind of meal that leaves you feeling warm, satisfied, and ready to conquer whatever adventure lies ahead.

So, whether you're seeking solace on a rainy day or simply craving a flavoursome, fiery fix, Sarawak Laksa is the answer. Go ahead and dive into a bowl of this beloved comfort food, and let the aromatic spices and rich flavours transport you to culinary bliss. Just be warned: Once you experience the magic of Sarawak Laksa, you might find yourself longing for it long after the rain has passed.

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  1. i suka sarawak laksa.. mesti makan whenver pergi sarawak. kat semenanjung belum jumpa yang betul2 sedap

  2. tak pernah lagi makan laksa sarawak tapi tengok ingredients dengan gambar nampak sedap sangat and I'm so agree with you, sedap makan panas-panas time musim hujan ni

  3. I had Sarawak laksa for the first time in Kuching. Went home and tried to look for recipes but discovered that it was SO complicated to make. Most people would buy ready-made paste.

  4. ya ampunnnnnnnnn !! sedapnya laksa !! mana lah nak cekau awal pagi buta ni.. hahahaa~ kat semenanjung ni kat mana yang sedap ya ? boleh rekomen tak ?

  5. Nampak menyelerakan sungguh. Tak pernah makan lagi laksa sarawak. Should try ni

  6. Nampak sedap betul laksa sarawak ni. Tak pernah makan. Nanti bolehlah cuba laksa sarawak

  7. I never tried sarawak laksa before. but i know it is different from all the laksas we used to have. all laksas are different! but if they are selling the ready made paste, i would definiely buy it.

  8. Now you are making me missing my hometown, Sibu. And now is MCO 2.0, I have to postpone my visit to DapoPuro for their tasty laksa sarawak

  9. i dah makan sekali waktu ada expo sabah dan sarawak kat klcc convention dulu, memang sedap sangat laksa sarawak rasa dia kena dengan tekak i siap bungkus lagi delicous !

  10. haha.. sy lama dah tak balik kampung di sarawak sejak pkp ni.. senang nak masak laksa ni.. boleh try paste Cap Burung Bayan.. confirm sedap..

  11. i do love Laksa Sarawak. It is very renyah to make as there are many ingredients and condiments to be prepared to make a complete dish of Laksa Sarawak. So better buy je, senang. Luckily, there is Sarawak's restaurant nearby my housing area

  12. Huwaaa rindu la Laksa Sarawak. Sedap makan masa panas-panas dan ada cili paste serta limau. Rindu! Nanti dah habis pkp. Nak fly ke Sarawak. Bleh makan di my favourite food court. Hehehe

  13. Interesting fact about Sarawak Laksa.. Good to know.. My friend just cooked this for me last weekend.. going to looks for it again la today..

  14. I read this post around 12am now im craving for laksa serawak tsktsk so yummy dah lama tak makan. I should cari esok

  15. Mouse mommy has not try out Sarawak Laksa before, will search for it after pandemic settle down. Wanna try out new foodies!

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