Malaysian cuisine is a melting pot of traditions from its Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and ethnic Bornean citizens, with heavy to light influences from Thai, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabian cuisines and British cuisines, to name a few. The condiments and spices used in cooking varies and this results in strong regional nuances.
There are two types of laksa: curry laksa and asam laksa. Curry laksa is a coconut milk curry soup with noodles, while asam laksa is a sour, most often tamarind-based, soup with noodles. I have tried to keep this vegan, (took inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More) and so did not use any of the traditional seasonings like shrimp paste. Here is my take on the classic.
Chow means stir-fried and mein (shortened from meing)
meaning noodles. It is served all over the world with variations in Westernized
Chinese restaurants. Just as with any
other dish, it has been noted that chow mein tends to be very different from
what is served in China and is heavily modified to fit the taste preference of
the local dominant population.
What most people don’t know about India, is that there are a number of Chinese that settled down in India in the late 18th century and so there is a distinct Indo Chinese cuisine.
I have tasted many a time in India and my version is based
on that memory.
This is typical Malaysian street food and for best results you need to cook individual serves. I normally prepare the tofu and have all my ingredients portioned out and ready to go, so cooking becomes a coordinated effort and is a breeze.
I suggested using fresh rice noodles but you can also use dried rice noodles about 1cm wide. Cook them first in boiling water for 2 or 3 minutes (refer to instructions on the packet) and refresh them several times in cold water so they don’t clump up together.
You can use any combination of protein – Chinese sausage, squid, prawns or just egg and tofu.