Monday, 1 October 2012

Assam Laksa - with a Thai twist

There is a fair bit of preparation to this recipe, but it is totally worth it :)

Assam laksa is one of my favourite noodles, but I have stopped ordering it whenever we eat out because chances are all you'll get are loads of noodles and some watered down soup, with a few slivers of cucumber and pineapple.

Fffffish? I'd be happy if I can find a chunk that's bigger than my thumbNAIL.

So what's the next best solution? 

You make your own.

This is actually my mum's recipe.  Mum has always been an adventurous cook ie she is not one to follow a recipe to a T.  She likes to tamper add this and that to recipes and come up with her own version.  She also likes to find fuss free methods.  So let me forewarned you here, this recipe is shamelessly un-authentic, but the taste most certainly is!   

So when i saw mom's recipe list, I was like "Er mum, how come there is tom yam paste in the list?!"  Mum gave me this "duhh...what's wrong with that" kinda look. LOL. 

You can't taste the tom yam flavour at all, but it gives depth to the soup, plus a real sour kick, with the sweetness coming from the prawn paste and the fish meat.

Mum's right again!

Assam Laksa - with a Thai twist

Serves 6

To make the soup stock:-
  • 2 cans (425g each) of sardines/mackerel in tomato sauce - yup, one shortcut here! forget about boiling fresh fish, forking the meat, straining the soup etc...
  • 1 stalk bunga kantan, sliced
  • 1 bunch chien hong leaves (daun kesum) - rinsed
  • 2 stalks lemon grass, white parts only
  • 1/2 bunch mint leaves (with stalks), rinsed.
  • 4 pieces of dried tamarind
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tsp belacan granules
  • 1 tbpsn prawn paste
  • tom yam paste 100g - I use Tesco homebrand
  • 2.5 tbspn sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2.5 litre water

  • 1 cucumber, skin on, grated
  • pineapple pieces
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • mint leaves, rinsed
  • beansprouts (I love beansprouts in all my noodles, so i added it.  This is purely optional), rinsed, blanched and set aside
  • 1 packet of dried vermicelli (400g), soaked in tap water to soften, blanched and set aside

1.  Pour out the fish and the tomato gravy into a deep bowl.  Separate the fish from the sauce.  Roughly fork the fish and divide into 2 bowls. Set aside the tomato gravy.

2. Bring the water to a boil and add all the ingredients for the soup stock.  Add in the tomato gravy and 1 bowl of the fish meat.  Reserve the other bowl of fish meat as topping.

3.  Bring the soup to a boil and let simmer for half hour to 45 minutes, stirring occassionally.  Season to taste.  It should be slightly more sour and pungent as the taste will be a little bit diluted when the noodles are added.

4.  Assemble the noodles and ladle the soup onto it.  Add in the toppings and serve immediately.

Tesco brand of Tom Yam paste, and bunga kantan

Side note:

To get the right kind of taste and fish texture for this laksa, i bought one tin each of the three leading brands of canned fish in the market - Ayam brand, King Cup and Yeo's.

Ayam brand is the priciest, followed by King Cup and Yeo's (both are almost similar in price).  Not surprisingly, Ayam brand gives the biggest chunk of fish, the meat texture is soft, fresh and sweet. 

King Cup's fish is slightly chunkier than Yeo's but both yield rather flaky and dry meat.  Yeo's tomato gravy is the sweetest amongst the three, whilst the sauce for Ayam brand and King Cup tasted the same.

In summary, I would use Ayam brand for this laksa, and especially for making sandwiches as the meat is moist, soft and sweet. 


  1. Looks delicious, Esther. I sure would love a bowl of this assam laksa. It looks better than the ones I have eaten in Penang!

  2. Esther, your Mum is a genius! I am an asam laksa fan and I agree that it is not worth eating out. I thought it would be difficult to cook but this looks very doable!

    1. Yea, really very doable, just abit of work assembling all the ingredients. After that, its just boil only.

  3. Wow... I understand that the process takes a long time - but sometimes you just have to spend that much time to get great food. Quick and easy recipes are convenient but good flavors sometimes need a little bit of work and effort. I appreciate you shared this recipe so we get to see how it's made! And this looks sooooo good!!!

    1. You are absolutely right Nami, good flavours need some time and effort :)

  4. Esther, mums always knows best, right! I love it when my mum teaches me her recipes, and it always tastes the best. Your assam laksa looks so good, I saw it on FB and it totally made me drool. Would love to try this!

    1. Pretty easy to make, just need to assemble all the ingredients.

  5. Yes, you are right.... homemade is always the best and mum knows best!

    1. Yea, my mum always can find some surprising short cuts!

  6. this is quick and easy way of preparing Asam laksa, one day if i craving to have a bowl of Asam laksa, i think i will follow your shortcut way too..Thanks for sharing.

  7. Hey that actually looks really good! I've never liked Assam Laksa, maybe it's because of what you said about the ones you bought. Maybe I'll attempt this one day. :D

  8. Hi Esther. wow... love the bowl of asam laksa, it look extremely good. My favorite can have 2 bowls no problem. LOL

    Those selling outside are really watery and no kick at all, the ingredients look so pathetic. Nothing beats the homemade asam laksa. Love your ideas put beansprouts. An anti aging food.

    P/S Next time you try Botan sardine, it taste better.

    Have a nice day, regards.

    1. If i eat this outside, i always ask the shop if they can add beansprouts to it, and they look at me like what a crazy woman i am!! I've never heard of Botan brand before, but will keep an eye out for it. Thanks!

  9. oh yes, your mum is right, nothing wrong not doing it the authentic way as long as it's delicious! you know, there's a stall here selling assam laksa that if you want extra fish meat, they will warn you first that they will be charging you extra for that!

  10. oh yum.. i was just craving for a bowl of assam laksa.. i know i wont make it at home cause i'm lazy like that,, looks like i need to go to the hawker stall (they do a pretty good job so i don't mind hehehe)

    1. Ah, good assam laksa stalls are hard to find. Klang eh? Unfortunately abit too far for me..

  11. looks authentic enough, i don't mind as long as there are short cuts:D


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