Lakse Kuoh Masok


On Sunday, we had a very delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok’ (laksa kuah masak) for dinner at nenek’s place. ‘Lakse kuoh masok’ is a type of rice noodle (lakse) dish served with a spicy fish curry sauce (kuoh masok) and fresh raw vegetables called ‘ulang’ (ulam in standard speak). In Terengganu, we have two types of laksa dishes – ‘lakse kuoh masok’ (rice noodle in cooked fish curry sauce) and ‘lakse kuoh metoh’ (rice noodle in uncooked fish curry sauce. ‘Lakse kuoh masok’ is also known as ‘lakse kuoh meroh’ while ‘lakse kuoh metoh’ is also known as ‘lakse kuoh puteh’ due to the colours of their fish curry sauces.

The delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok’ that we enjoyed that evening was specially brought by Pak Cik Hisham who works in nenek’s bookstore, Alam Akademik in Kuala Terengganu. The ‘kuoh’ (fish curry sauce) was cooked by Pak Cik Hisham’s mother. She must be a very good cook for the ‘kuoh’ is very tasty. According to nenek, it is not easy to prepare a very tasty ‘kuoh masok’ for in cooking Terengganu traditional dishes, the amount of ingredients used for a recipe is just ‘agok-agok’ or about ‘a certain amount’- so one needs a lot of practice to master the recipe.

Even the laksa (rice noodle) is brought from Terengganu. In KL, mum uses the dried laksa because the kind of fresh laksa sold in KL tastes very differently from the ones sold in Terengganu. Of course the fresh laksa or ‘lakse kebok’ is much tastier than the dried laksa especially the one that Pak Cik Hisham brought to KL. Nenek said that Pak Cik Hisham’s ‘lakse’ was of high quality and stayed soft and fresh even after two days outside the refrigerator.

Preparing a traditional ‘lakse kuoh masok’ is rather tedious especially when the types of fish suitable for the fish curry sauce are quite bony. First we have to boil the fish and debone them. The process is tricky as we have to look out for fine fish bones. Then mash the fish using a mortar and pestle until smooth. Cook the fish in coconut milk together with shrimp paste, chili paste, asam, shallots, garlic, ginger and other spices and herbs on slow fire for at least four hours for a tasty ‘kuoh masok’.

For the vegetables, traditionally we use brinjals, cucumbers, bean sprouts, fresh basil leaves, cashew shoots, long beans and kesomleaves or polygonum. Slice (very fine) all the vegetables except brinjals and cucumbers that should be cut into fine cubes. Anyway for the modern version of ‘lakse kuoh masok’, any ulam (salad) such as pegaga, ulam raja, etc can be used instead of the vegetables mentioned above but the basil and kesom (polygonum) leaves are a must. If using the dried laksa, boil the laksa until soft, then rinse them in cold water. Please do not use the KL version of fresh laksa for it does not taste like the Terengganu ‘lakse at all. Serve the ‘lakse’ (lakse kebok’ if possible) with ‘kuoh‘, vegetables, slices of hard boiled eggs, lime and some shrimp paste and chili paste for an extra delicious ‘lakse kuoh masok‘. ‘Pok Cik Shang‘, thank you very much for the delicious lakse – we really enjoyed the ‘akok’ and egg tarts too.’Sedak sunggoh kuoh lakse mok Pok Cik Shang. Rase macang nok lagi je’.

Eggs


Last weekend, my family and I attended a wedding celebration and we were given some tokens in form of ‘bunga telur’ (‘bunga’ means flower and ‘telur’ means egg) by our host. Bunga telur is actually hard boiled egg decorated with plastic/ paper/ crystal flowers or decorated in boxes (or in container) made of paper, ceremic and even crystal.

Mum told me that in the old days (in Terengganu) the eggs for ‘bunga telur’ would be painted red using red food colouring. But mum has no idea of why the eggs were painted red and not other colour. It would made more sense if that (colouring the eggs red) were practiced by the Chinese since they believe that red brings them good luck. Anyway I do not have the chance to see ‘telur merah’ or red coloured eggs.

Now I’m wondering why did eggs were used as a wedding token in Malay tradition. However, nowadys sweets, candies, chocolates, cupcakes and others are sometimes used instead of eggs. But somehow eggs are still widely used and we would end up with lots of hard boiled eggs during the wedding season.

In Malaysia the Malays use hard boiled eggs to garnish their dishes such as fried noodle, salad, various kinds of ‘laksa’ and much more. Hard boiled egg is also used for egg curry, egg sambal, egg sandwiches and even in a special rice dish called nasi telur (nasi means rice and telur means egg).

It is interesting to note that certain people belief that eating raw eggs mixed with honey will make them healthier. Raw eggs are also used in other drinks such as mixed them with fresh milk or carrot juice.

So special are the eggs that in the old days (I heard this tale from my grandmother) they even find the use for rotten eggs. Rotten eggs or ‘telur tembelang’ in Trengganuspeak are used to show hatred and were thrown at an enemy or their house. What a bad attitude. Alhamdulillah such incidence does not happen anymore (or at least I hope so!)

*Note: I would like to thank my mum for the informations.