Laksa Johor: A Royal Laksa Dish Made with Spaghetti
Laksa Johor stands apart from other laksa varieties in Malaysia due to its unconventional use of spaghetti instead of traditional noodles or bihun. The thick, curry-like gravy, resembling a paste, is prepared with ground fish such as ikan parang or ikan tenggiri, along with coconut milk, dried shrimps, asam gelugur, and a medley of aromatic herbs and spices like kerisik, lemongrass, and galangal.
To complete the dish, Laksa Johor is garnished with onion slices, beansprouts, daun selasih (Thai basil), daun kesum (Vietnamese coriander), julienned cucumber, and pickled radish. Served alongside is sambal belacan for an extra kick, and a squeeze of calamansi lime juice adds a tangy zest. It’s worth noting that many Johoreans prefer to enjoy Laksa Johor using their fingers, eschewing traditional utensils.
Legend has it that Sultan Abu Bakar, hailed as the “Founder of Modern Johor,” developed a fondness for spaghetti during his frequent travels to Italy. Inspired by his culinary adventures, he instructed his royal chefs to replace the usual rice noodles with spaghetti in Laksa Johor, resulting in a unique fusion of Italian and Malay influences that has since become part of Johor’s culinary heritage.
Despite being beloved and its uniqueness, Laksa Johor is not commonly found in local eateries throughout Johor. This scarcity is primarily due to the dish’s labour-intensive and time-consuming preparation, making it less commercially viable for regular establishments. Instead, Laksa Johor is often reserved for special occasions, ceremonial events, weddings, or open house gatherings, where its intricate flavours and craftsmanship can be fully appreciated.