Laksa Johor: A Royal Laksa Dish Made with Spaghetti
Unlike other laksa types in Malaysia, Laksa Johor uses spaghetti instead of noodles or bihun. The curry-like gravy is thick, almost resembling a paste, and is made of ground fish (ikan parang or ikan tenggiri), coconut milk, dried shrimps, asam gelugur as well as a blend of herbs and spices including kerisik, lemongrass, and galangal.
The dish is garnished with slices of onion, beansprouts, daun selasih (Thai basil), daun kesum (Vietnamese coriander), julienned cucumber and pickled radish. Sambal belacan is usually placed on the side, with calamansi lime juice squeezed over it before eating. Many Johoreans typically eat their laksa Johor with their fingers, rather than with fork and spoon.
It is believed that Sultan Abu Bakar – known as the “Founder of Modern Johor” traveled to Italy often and there he acquired a love for spaghetti. Returning to Malaysia, he instructed his royal chefs to use spaghetti instead of the traditional rice noodles in his Laksa Johor. The rest is history.
While Laksa Johor is uniquely Johor, it is surprisingly difficult to find at eateries in Johor. The reason is that the preparation of Laksa Johor is extremely tedious and takes long hours (so it is not as commercially viable). It is more a frequent dish for ceremonies, weddings or open house.