Time and Limes

I was scrolling through my dear friend, Effa’s blog recently (congratulations on your engagement, Effa & Aslan!) and saw this:

I’ve always been a sucker for word puzzles, especially searchword puzzles. I used to buy whole books of searchword puzzles and carry them around with me on the tube when I was in London, often going through them in a matter of days, anywhere and everywhere I could read and circle.

Before I even got round to reading her action points, the first three words I saw, and in the following order, were:

  1. Love
  2. Youth
  3. Time 

I suppose that pretty much sums up exactly what I want as my 25th birthday approaches. There you have it folks, the cat is out of the bag, yes… I am turning 25 this year, and not 22 as I so often (and loudly) proclaim. I realize that 25 years is loose change to many, yet I feel like I’m running out of time! Watching that Justin Timberlake film doesn’t help one whit either!

There’s a few weeks left before my birthday, and even though I don’t believe that any certain date has any significance on my wisdom… I do intend on totally sucking up all the birthday perks! Woohoo!

This past month has been a constant celebration, what with Eid and Malaysia’s independence day going on within a week of each other. So my family and I decided to host a special Laksa Day last Friday in our finally completed house. According to ever trusty (LOL) Wikipedia, Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup from the Peranakan culture, which is a merger of Chinese and Malay elements found in Malaysia and Singapore, and to a lesser extent Indonesia.

Totally that. Except each state, each region, each house even has a different variation of the Laksa. You may recall from previous posts that my family is from Sarawak, a Malaysian state in the northern region of Borneo island, most known for being owned by the Brooke family (the White Rajahs of Sarawak), our bloodthirsty warriors, the Headhunters (and no, I don’t mean the type that would offer you a six-figure job), and our lush tropical rainforests. We’re known for a lot of mystical, often bordering of fantastical things, our many many native tribes (holla! I’m a product of TWO), for being The Land of the Hornbills (how can you not have patriotism oozing from your every pore when you can call that home?), and our crazy awesome food.

There’s quite a variety of dishes that Sarawak is popular for, but none more so than the Laksa Sarawak. The process of brewing that spicy-sour shrimp-based soup is ridiculously complex (though not necessarily difficult), then there’s the part where you assemble all the different condiments into a bowl and pour that delicious, aromatic soup over everything… that moment where you squeeze fresh lime over the entire concoction… and then… the part where you end up slurping the last dregs of soup from the bottom of the bowl… wishing you had more prawns to soak it up with.

You can tell I’m salivating at the thought of it, despite the fact that I had leftovers all weekend. This stuff is magical, and only the Mee Kolok comes close to the number 1 spot in terms of local cuisine (in my books, at least).

I wish, I WISH I could share the recipe with you, but like I said… each house has a different version of the laksa, even in Sarawak. The ingredients are all the same, yet the process makes all the difference. Some people use a different brand of laksa paste (the herb-based paste that becomes the basis of the laksa soup, which is as far as I know, only available in Sarawak), some prefer using normal milk instead of coconut milk, some just use the water from boiling the shrimp, or there are some who blend the shrimp shells and boil that!

One day, maybe, when I publish my cookbook or have my own cooking show… I’ll reveal this secret. I promise. For now, let this post me an ode to Sarawak and it’s Laksa.

I love you, Sarawak!

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