Sunday, September 27, 2009

LaksaPenang not Listed in the National Heritage Website

Laksa joins in food fight


GEORGE TOWN: Another dish has joined the food fight. This time it’s laksa — especially assam laksa which is otherwise known as Penang laksa — which is close to the hearts and palates of Penangites.

Although over time, many stalls have added a ‘lemak’ version to the laksa dish, to many, Penang laksa is still the best.

This is why Penangites were curious why Penang Laksa was not included in the list of 100 types of heritage food and drinks on the National Heritage website (www.warisan.gov.my).

Assam laksa seller Ang Kar Seong, 60, whose stall at the Air Itam market is a hit with locals and foreigners alike, said the dish should definitely be given due recognition as a “truly Malaysian” food.

All-time favourite: Ang scooping some assam laksa soup at his stall at the Air Itam market. He is being helped by his grand-daughter Choong Boom Lee (second from right).

“The speciality of Penang laksa is its distinctive thick and sour minced fish-brewed soup cooked with chilli in assam (tamarind) water and flavoured with serai (lemon grass).

“The minced fish that is added in to make the soup has to be just right so the soup does not end up having the fishy smell.

“I have been selling this dish for the past 50 years. I used to help my late mother around the stall when I was in primary school,” he said when met at his stall yesterday.

Laksa is believed to have originated from the Peranakan culture, also known as Baba and Nyonya, which is a merger of Chinese and Malay elements found in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, third-generation Penang curry mee seller Moey Kok Keong, 45, was also disappointed that the curry mee dish did not make its way to the list.

Penang curry mee is made of yellow egg noodles and rice vermicelli with coconut milk-based soup and a choice of tauhu pok (dried beancurd), prawns, cuttlefish, egg, coagulated pig’s blood and topped with mint leaves.

Moey said: “Curry mee is a special dish in Malaysia and although there are many different versions of curry mee, the Penang one, which is also known as white curry mee, stands out because of its coconut-milk-based soup,” he said at his stall in a coffee-shop at Lorong Seratus Tahun.

Coffee-shop owner Alex Goh, 35, who runs a family business specialising in Penang Hokkien mee or prawn mee in Chai Leng Park on the mainland, was also disappointed that the dish failed to make the list.

He said the dish was likely to have originated from Penang because of the large number of Hokkiens here.

News from the TheStar Malaysia

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