Saturday, October 3, 2009

Penang Asam Laksa

My parents sent me a big box of spices, soup mixes as well as seasoning mixes from Malaysia a while back. I found this among the many items in the box. A packet of Penang Asam Laksa mix. My mom bought this from Tean Ean, a popular local products shop in Penang.

Asam Laksa is a must have whenever you are visiting Penang. Apart from the ever so popular Char Koay Teow, the Asam Laksa ranks way up there when you think of hawker/street food in Penang. As a Penang native, I can proudly say that Penang has the best Asam Laksa in the whole wide world, no question about it :P I must say that this Asam Laksa mix is pretty good, almost as good as the Asam Laksa you can find in Penang. So, this is how you make Asam Laksa with the mix.

Asam is the Malay word for tamarind. To make Asam Laksa, you would need some tamarind to give it that sourish taste. Soak some wet tamarind in hot water and set it aside.

Another important component in Asam Laksa is the fish. The instructions on the packet says to use canned sardines. I know that the authentic Asam Laksa requires you to use fresh mackerels but I couldn't get any in the grocery store. So, I settled for fresh sardines. It's way better than canned ones.

This is basically what you need to make the Asam Laksa soup. One packet of Asam Laksa mix, a bowl of blended onions, some tamarind juice (strain out the large chunks of tamarind and you will get tamarind juice) and some fresh sardines or mackerels (that has been cleaned). For those of you who cannot get a hold of the Asam Laksa mix and wants to know what spices are found in it, here is the list. A few different types of Chillies, Turmeric, Lemon Grass, Galangga, Kesum Leaves, Ginger Buds, Candlenuts, Sliced Tamarind, Salt and Sugar.

To make the Asam Laksa soup, you begin by boiling 4 liters of water in a big pot. Once it comes to a rapid boil, add in the Asam Laksa mix.

Next, in goes the blended onions.

After giving it a good stir, add in the tamarind juice.

Mix it all up and allow it boil for a bit. Then, you can add in the fish. Let the fish cook in the stock for about 20 minutes or so.

Once the fish is cooked, remove it from the stock and debone it. It can be quite tricky as there are lots of bones and the fish is still very hot. After removing all the bones (well, at least most of it), return the deboned fish back into the pot. Add in some salt and sugar to taste and let it boil on medium heat for another 15 minutes or so. With that, the Asam Laksa soup is done.

This is what you need to complete the Asam Laksa. Some laksa noodles , red onions, cucumbers, pineapples, serrano chillies and some heh koh (sweet shrimp paste). Some people would also add in some mint and ginger buds but I am not a big fan of either, so I have decided to omit those out.

Blanch the laksa noodles in the boiling Asam Laksa soup for a minute or so. Then, place the noodles in a bowl and sprinkle the rest of the ingredients on top of it. Pour the hot soup over the noodles and it is ready to be served! Serve the Asam Laksa with a generous dollop of shrimp paste in a spoon.

Here it is. A big bowl of yummy Asam Laksa! I am pretty happy with the end result, it tasted authentic and good :D I just love the Asam Laksa, there are not many dishes where you can get the sweet, salty and sour taste all in one mouthful! If you can't finish the Asam Laksa soup in one sitting, do not worry. Just put it in the refrigerator and reheat it the next day. It always taste better the next day, when the soup thickens and that's when you can get the full fish and tamarind flavor!

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