After our cruise trip and our stops in Penang and Phuket, I was craving badly for Penang Assam Laksa when we got back. That bowl of Assam Laksa at Lebuh Selamat has to be the best I had tasted in my life. So I declared I am officially in love with Penang Assam Laksa.
But sad to say, you can't really find a good bowl of Penang Assam Laksa in Kuching. The closest one would be at Jojo Cafe at 2 1/2 Mile. Greg doesn't like that one cos it's extremely sour & hot.
The one we had in Penang was so well balanced. So I had to take the trouble to do a bit of research & came up with this recipe:
1.3-1.5kg of fresh sardine/fresh mackarel (ikan kembung), cleaned and washed well
10 cups of water
5-6 pcs of assam keping
80gm of daun kesum (laksa or Vietnamese mint)*
older parts of 2 bunga kantan (ginger bulb)
2-3 tbsp of assam jawa (tamarind) + 1 cup of water to wash and get the juice
*The ever eluding Daun Kesum (Polyganum Leaves).
I had to order it from the market. Imagine that.
Tamarind (Assam Jawa)
Clockwise from left: Tumeric root (kunyit), Galangal (Lengkuas), Fresh chillis, Dried chillis and Lemongrass (serai) in the middle
8 shallots (chinese red onion)
2 stalks of lemon grass, use only the white part about 5-6 inch, slices thinly into 2 cm long
1 pc of tumeric root (kunyit), slightly bigger than thumb size
1 pc of galangal root (lengkuas), slightly bigger than thumb size
15-18 pcs dried chillis
5 pcs of fresh red chillis
1 pc of belachan, about 2-3 cm cube
1)Boil water in a deep pot and add fish. Boil for 10-15 minute til fish is cooked. Take fish out, cool slightly and de-flaked.
2) Return the fish bone and head to water. Add assam keping, bunga kantan parts and daum kesum and simmer for 1 hour or so. Strain for the stock.
3) Roughly cut all the above spices ingredients and pound with a mortar and pestle or chopper to paste.
4) Fry paste till fragrant. Add the spice paste to soup, followed by assam jawa juice. Simmer for a while and taste for sourness. Return the fish meat to soup mixture. Adjust taste with sugar, salt and fish sauce. Continue simmering on low fire while you prepare to assemble the bowl.
1 packet of laksa penang (LaiFen)
Thin strips of cucumber, about 6-8 strips per bowl
Thin strips of pineapple, about 6-8 strips per bowl
Red onion, sliced thinly
chillis, sliced thinly
inner parts of bunga kantan, shredded into the bowl
3 tbsp of prawn paste (hea ko) + 1 tbsp of water (divide one tbsp per bowl)
extra lime (optional)
1) Soak Lai fen till white and soft. Blanch till cooked.
2) Garnish with cucumber, pineapple, mint, onion, lettuce, chillis, bunga kantan and lime.
3) Dish out the hot soup and fish flake over the noodle and add garnishings.
4)Serve with hay ko (prawn paste).
This laksa worked out really well for both of us & we really enjoyed it. It got us sweating all over & our noses were running non-stop. I would not want to compare with the best in Penang but it's definitely good enough to share with people. Hope you'll enjoy it as well!