September 7, 2011

Penang Assam Laksa

Penang Assam Laksa has been selected as the No.2 Must Eat hawker food through an online poll on the VisitPenang website in 2009. 
Penang Assam Laksa is very addictive due to the spicy and sour taste of the fish broth. Tamarind is used generously in the soup base and hence the word Assam (means tamarind in Malay). In addition to tamarind, assam keping or peeled tamarind is also commonly added to give it extra tartness. Another secret ingredient is Polygonum leaf (marketed as Vietnamese mint leaf in the United States) or daun kesom/daun laksa. While the best Assam Laksa broth is infused with the aromatic ginger flower (bunga kantan). Of course, no Assam Laksa is complete without belacan and heh ko. 

  • 500 gm fresh laksa (rice noodles)
  • heiko (black prawn paste mixed with boiled water to flowing consistency)
  • 1 kg ikan kembong (mackerel)
  • 1 bunga kantan (ginger flower) - cut into halves
  • 6 stalks daun kesum (Thai basil leaves)
  • 2 cups tamarind juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 stalks serai (lemon grass)
  • 3 cm piece lengkuas (galangal)
  • 250 gm shallots
  • 12 dried chillies - soaked
  • 1 cm piece turmeric
  • 1/2 cm piece belacan (shrimp paste)
  • 1 small cucumber
  • 1 stock lettuce
  • 1/2 pineapple
  • 100 gm mint leaves
  • 3 fresh chillies - sliced
  • 1 onion - finely sliced
1. Put fish, salt and 5 cups of water in a pan and bring it to boil

2. When fish is cooked, remove bones and keep fish aside

3. Simmer bones for at least 30 minutes 

4. Remove bones

5. Add ground ingredients to fish stock and bring to boil 

6. Add tamarind juice, daun kesum, ginger flower, sugar, fish meat and oil

7. Simmer for 20 minutes

8. Gravy should be kept warm till serving time

9. Put the laksa in a bowl and garnish the laksa with shredded vegetables. Ladle gravy over it and add a little heiko sauce on top. Best eaten when it's hot.