IN Kedah, they love laksa so much they have it at all times of the day. They even serve laksa for wedding banquets and during festivals like Hari Raya.
Laksa Kedah or laksa Utara (northern laksa) is a dish of rice noodles in a fish-based asam-flavoured gravy, garnished with julienned cucumber and onions, and fragranced with herbs like daun kesum. Its dominant notes are the sourness of the asam and the sweetness of the fish, but there is also a hint of spiciness. Those who like their laksa spicy can simply add on more cut bird’s eye chillies. Otak udang, or prawn paste, is a must-have seasoning to add more flavour and depth.
Laksa Kedah is distinguished by its thin, sourish gravy, and by the use of freshly-made rice noodles, which are softer than the pre-packaged kind. Malay laksa sellers serve the dish with a spoonful of sambal nyiur (coconut sambal).
There are also fishing villages along the coast of Kedah where fresh fish is abundant. The secret of delicious laksa Kedah gravy is in using the freshest fish; popular varieties are mackerel, such as ikan kembung, or ikan selayang or sardines.
Some families still serve their laksa Kedah with finely-sliced ulam such as daun selom, ulam raja and pucuk gajus (young cashew nut leaves).
There are laksa stalls all over the state, operating at all hours. But the most famous is the Laksa Teluk Kechai on Jalan Kuala Kedah in Alor Setar.
The fertile plains of Kedah make it the rice bowl of Malaysia. Rice is the heart-beat of the state and the people have a palate receptive to its gentle nuances. True blue laksa Kedah aficionados will tell you that freshly-made rice noodles have a softer, more porous nature and better absorb the flavours of the gravy.
One of the most famous laksa stalls here is Zakaria Laksa, run by a family who has been making laksa for almost 70 years. They make the rice noodles daily behind their restaurant. A rice dough is made, then placed in a mould called a kebuk, which extrudes long strands of noodles that fall into a vat of boiling water to cook. They are then scooped out with a sieve and left to drain and cool.