Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Wednesday, March 09, 2005
(Digest this BIIIIIIG serving by my Guest Blogger, DERUMO)

There is a delicious Malaysian dish known as Laksa Johor. The laksa is made of noodles and the gravy is made of fish preferably ikan tenggiri or economically ikan kembong or the mixture of the two cooked in santan. The vegetables garnishing for the laksa are cucumber, kesum. Pineapple, sliced onion, etc. So far, the instant noodle companies have not made instant laksa johor yet since these fresh ulams are difficult to be "instantized"!!

Being a Trengganunese, I don't agree with the assigning of the name Johor to that particular laksa. It should be generically called laksa lemak (or laksa kuah lemak). The laksa of Trengganu which I would like to officially call lakseganu (short for Lakse Gganu and almost similar to the Italian lasagna) is the same as laksa johor in terms of the laksa, kuah and ulam etc. In fact, the lakseganu is more fresh and elaborated prepared. The laksa is made of either rice or wheat flour. The rice laksa is usually freshly made with a brass cylinder extruder known as gebok laksa tembaga (its technical name is BCNE = Brass Cylindrical Noodle Extruder). The art of making the laksa is very interesting but with the advent of the dried laksa (originally from Thailand), this art had vanished.

The feedstock material used for the laksa is rice flour (tepung beras) -which is more valued in East Coast because it is more difficult to make. On the other hand, the laksa tepung is made from wheat flour which is considered as the inferior version. They don't fancy the laksa tepung so much since it is cepat muok.

How is the lakseganu made? The instrument needed to make fresh laksa beras ( lakse berah) are a gebok tembaga ( using the duck penis screw press), a buaya ,a lesong numbok hok dalang , piring lubbang, a kayu mutor, a kawoh, many badang or talang, the daun paku pakis ( fern). The rice is pounded into fine powder and the flour is made into "dough" and wrapped in banana leaves to be boiled. Then the cooked rice dough is again pounded in the lesong (wooden pastel) before stuffing it into the gebok. The gebok had a screw press which squeezes the cooked rice dough into long noodles through a piring (a metal sheet with lots of holes). The most interesting part of the equipment is the screw press is called the "duck penis" in Malay appropriately termed so due to its shape and its movement into the cylinder. The gebok is placed onto a fitting hole of a 4 inches wooden plank known as buaya (not buaya 69). The shape and the size of the thick wooden platform/plank which look like a crocodile explained the term used. A long wooden pole is inserted at the end of the screw press which is used as a lever to turn it.

So you have to push the wooden pole (by going round and round the buaya) to twirl around the screw press which presses the cooked rice dough over holed metal sheet to extricate the laksa. Below the gebok, there is a big kawoh of boiling water into which the pressed laksa is dropped to be cooked. When the laksa is cooked, it is scooped out into woven bamboo or metal tray (badang/talang). For serving the laksa, it is made by into a bundle of elongated curl strand known as chat and then placed on the fern leaves on the tray. (I suppose the women folk were chatting around when they use their nimble fingers to chat the laksa and that's why they are called chat) This art of making laksa is almost gone now gone but we can still imagine the whole as a miniature version when they make putu mayam /putu mayong in the kitchen.

(To be continued tomorrow)