Laksa is a much loved dish here in Malaysia and many states have their own special twist to the dish. One of the rarest Laksa to find out of it’s origin state has to be THE Laksa Johor.
It’s known to incorporate a lot of expensive, rich ingredients and also very labour intensive to create, maybe that’s why it’s hard to find outside of Johor.
This dish is unlike other varieties of laksa in Malaysia as it substitutes spaghetti for noodles. The curry-like gravy is made of ground fish (ikan parang or ikan tenggiri), coconut milk, dried shrimp, asam gelugur (a type of tamarind) and a combination of herbs and spices resulting in a thick tantalizingly spicy gravy like paste compared to a soupy broth like other laksa dishes.
Slices of onion, beansprouts, Thai basil, Vietnamese coriander, cucumber, and pickled radish are used as garnish, creating a variety of fun textures with each bite!
Scroll further to read more unique facts about this ever so special, mouthwatering Malaysian meal!
1. Rumoured to have been created according to the Johor Sultan’s love of spaghetti
According to popular beliefs, Malaysians have been told that the Sultan of Johor, also dubbed the “Father of Modern Johor”, frequented Italy in 1885 where he fell in love with spaghetti (specifically spaghetti Bolognese).
Upon his return to Johor, he requested the palace chef to cook up a laksa dish using spaghetti instead of the traditional rice noodles.
The result became the ever so unique Laksa Johor we know of today, a thick fish paste gravy over spaghetti served with fresh toppings of vegetables. The Laksa Johor is one of the earlier examples of East-West fusion dishes in Malaysia.
2. Cucumbers are cut using Katsuramuki, a Japanese knife technique
As if this dish couldn’t get more fusion inspired, the techniques used to bring it all together albeit tedious and pain-staking – have much unique details to it, making it ever more special.
Laksa Johor is also topped with fresh vegetables, one of them being cucumber. But instead of the slices you get in your Nasi Lemak for example, these cucumbers are meticulously cut using a Japanese knife technique called Katsuramuki.
This Japanese term is used to describe a rotary peeling technique that creates long, continuous, paper-thin sheets of cucumber which is later sliced to preference resulting in a fresh yet juicy topping. Just goes to show how much details goes into the art of making the Laksa Johor, from the gravy right to the method used to slice the cucumbers.
3. Served on a plate, not in a bowl
Most Laksa across other states in Malaysia are all served in a bowl and served with a spoon for people to sip the broth as they eat.
But as we know Laksa Johor isn’t like the others. It’s thick gravy makes the dish traditionally served on plates rather than bowl servings. The wide flat surface area of the plate also makes it easier for all the dish’s elements to be mixed well and scooped as you eat. It’s just simply the Johor way to experience and appreciate this one of a kind dish!
4. Boiled Spaghetti will be divided into small portions of “chap”
The spaghetti in Laksa Johor is neatly portioned into knots shaped like the infinite sign or the figure eight.
These portioned knots are referred to as “chap” by Johor locals. When the spaghetti is just freshly boiled, a few strands are portioned and twisted and later uniquely served this way.
5. Traditionally eaten by hand without cutlery
The “chap” of the spaghetti makes it easier for it to soak up the gravy later on when all the different elements are to be traditionally mixed by hand before you take your first bite.
It’s just part of Johor customs to enjoy this dish by hands, no fork or spoon needed, people! To produce a flavour that is simultaneously spicy, mildly hot, and tangy, the spaghetti, all of the toppings, and the gravy should be thoroughly combined.
What remains after walloping the Laksa Johor is the lingering scent on your finger tips.
So there you have it! Some quick quirky facts about the sometimes misunderstood Laksa Johor. This dish is a timeless edition to Malaysia’s vast culinary scene and clearly a standout laksa dish amongst the rest.
What other special Malaysian dishes would you like for us to cover? Let us know in the comment section.
Also Read: Slurp-worthy! Discover 13 Most Popular Noodle Dishes From Each Malaysian State