Penang Assam Laksa
Recently, a friend of mine in Hong Kong asked me about Penang Assam Laksa. She told me that she had it in Penang and has been craving it and requested me to give her the recipe. I told her that she will have to go back to Penang again if she really loves it as my recipe will not do justice to the real Laksa you get in Penang.
Laksa (as we Penangites call it) or Assam Laksa, is the staple of Penang hawker food. If you come to Penang and there is one dish that you can try, this is probably it as you can’t get anything close to the real taste outside of Penang…
My aunt and my mother used to cook Laksa a lot while I was growing up in Penang. Preparing this dish is no simple matter. I remember helping out in the kitchen for hours; picking flesh off little Ikan Kembong (Mackerel Fish), cutting cucumber, lettuce leaves, red onions; plucking mint leaves off their stems and slicing little bird’s eye chilies…
Cooking this dish starts with boiling the main ingredient, Ikan Kembong, in a pot of hot boiling water. Once the fish is cooked, you scoop them up and leave the broth for later use. Pick the flesh off the fish, then put them back into the broth and add in the special blended chili paste made of fresh red chilies and dried chilies, belacan (dried shrimp paste), shallots, and a little garlic. To get the sour taste of Laksa, add in generous doses of tamarind juice into the broth. Leave the fish broth simmering for at least an hour and then you serve them over a bowl of Laksa Noodle and the freshly chopped vegetables plus some dark “Heh Ko” (liquidy prawn paste) and you have Laksa.
For the best Laksa in Penang, click here for “My Insider Guide to Penang Hawker Food“–a comprehensive food guide to the best of Penang hawker food. For my recipe of Penang Assam Laksa, please click here.
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