The Penang Assam Laksa, otherwise more commonly known as only “Laksa” by Penangites is a staple street food which can be found in all corners of Penang. We’re not kidding, in just about every hawker centre or street you happen to stumble upon, you will surely find at least one store selling the Penangites favourite laksa. Well, other than Char Kuey Teow which is another favourite of the Penangites. The Penang Assam Laksa is a sweet, spicy and sour type of soup noodle dish that is packed full of flavour, topped with fresh vegetables to balance out and refresh your palate while eating and drowned in a delicious thick fish broth that is not too fishy. This all time favourite dish is usually served with a type of chewy noodle which is full of elasticity to give it that springy mouthfeel. Thus, making every slurp you take, you get a mouthful of chewy noodles drenched in the thick tangy and spicy broth. In addition to that, if you search up the CNN 2021 Top 50 World Best Food Dishes, you can even find this steamy hot bowl of Penang Assam Laksa placed at the seventh place!
Did you know that this delightful dish was actually originated by the Nyonyas where it fuses both Malay and Chinese culinary elements into creating one bowl of sweet, sour and spicy goodness? Through the Penangites version of laksa, it is a dish consisting of round chewy rice noodles in a spicy fish based broth, meanwhile in other states, the laksa appears to be a curry version of a soup noodle that consists of yellow egg noodles and rice noodles. Furthermore, this dish is also available in not just Malaysia but in other Asian countries such as Singapore, Indonesia and some parts of Thailand too. While Penang is the place best known for their laksa, fret not because you can now find multiple Penang Assam Laksa stores in the heart of Malaysia. Although they may not have originated from Penang, the recipes are not that far off and it’s guaranteed that no amount of sweat and tears will stop you from slurping on the delicious combination of sweet, sour and spicy hot steaming bowl of laksa. Above all else, you can now even make it in the comfort of your own home with the multifunction cooker, Thermomix®!
Furthermore, did you know that with the various vegetables and herbs included inside this dish, the Penang Assam Laksa actually comes with benefits too? With the inclusion of herbs such as coriander, lemongrass as well as a few other spices like chillies, ginger, garlic and onions, some of the health benefit that comes with this dish are, boosting digestive health, provide you with antioxidants which is good for your immune system, regulating cholesterol levels as well as controlling your blood sugar levels and promoting healthy skin! This dish is not simply just a delicious dish that keeps you coming for more but with the health benefits it provides, we can be even more rest assured in making and consuming this dish! But of course even with its various health benefits, it is still important to consume everything in a moderate amount as over consumption of a certain food may very well lead to health complications.
The Penang Assam Laksa’s broth is usually made with mackerel as its main ingredient, along with tamarind peels and shrimp paste, giving it that addictive piquant flavour which will keep you coming for more! Thus, you can say the most important aspect of a Penang Assam Laksa is its broth. The process of making the broth has also proven to be an arduous task too. The laksa broth has to be slowly boiled for hours and if you are not careful in controlling the temperature, it can easily dry out or get burnt in the process. So making a delicious bowl of the Penang Assam Laksa may not be for those who are not very patient. But if you are cooking with Thermomix® though, not only does it take up significantly lesser time to whip up but on the other hand, it also provides you with the sense of security where you are able to control the precise temperature you want to cook the broth in thus minimizing the risk of accidentally burning the ingredients in the broth or drying it out!
However, with this dish being found in every corner of Penang, it’s not impossible to say that every Penang Assam Laksa cook has their own rendition of the laksa. As mentioned earlier, there are one of the examples are the ever famous curry laksa from Kuala Lumpur where they incorporate curry powder/curry leaves into the broth and also the Kelantanese style of laksa otherwise more commonly known as Laksam by them, is a rendition of laksa where their soup base is white in colour from the added santan.
Other than that, this dish is not only limited to meat lovers but they are also available to vegetarians as well! One of the ways in which you can make it vegetarian is through substituting meat ingredients with various types of different herbs such as galangal, coriander, miso or vegan shrimp paste as well as with daun ketum and the broth will just be as fragrant! But of course, with the addition of different versions of laksa, it means more good food for us! As different individuals have different tastes, making the best Penang Assam Laksa is not an easy task because different recipes will have different tastes. Therefore, making it is a process of trial and error before you can finally get a recipe that suits your taste buds.
Moreover with the aid of Thermomix®, you don’t have to worry about all the hassle that comes with it since you can cook, mix, blend and do everything in just this one smart kitchen appliance! With the 24 functions incorporated into the multi purpose Thermomix® cookware, you can rest easy and experiment for as many times as you want to get the right flavour you want for your Penang Assam Laksa soup base without needing to fear failure!
In addition to the ones mentioned, some of the other different renditions that we managed to find are those who prefer to put in sardines instead of mackerels, some would add in sweet potatoes to thicken and sweeten up the broth and some would even put in pineapples and tumeric. The variants of this dish are endless!
On that account, today’s Penang Assam Laksa broth is a recipe produced and created by yours truly, Beelee. Beelee is one of Thermomix’s Cooking Experts who has held numerous cooking classes in Thermomix Penang. Find out how you can make a gleaming pot of wickedly delicious mackerel based fish broth in Belee’s authentic Penang Assam Laksa recipe below.
Penang Assam Laksa Recipe
Ingredients group 1
- 8-10 kembong fish (cleaned)
- 6 pc tamarind peels (asam keping)
- 1000g water
Ingredients group 2
- 15-20 dried chili (soaked)
- 150g shallots
- 3 cloves garlic
- 10g shrimp paste (belacan)
- 200g water
Ingredients group 3
- 2 ginger torch flowers (halved)
- 5-6 stalks daun kesom
- 5 slices galangal
- 6-8 pc tamarind peels (asam keping)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 3 tbsp sugar
Thermomix Cooking Directions
First of all, place all the ingredients in ingredient group 1 into the mixing bowl and cook at 100°C for 12 minutes at reverse spoon speed.
Then, strain all the ingredients from the fish stock into a pot and put aside the cooked fish to rest. Once the cooked fish reaches room temperature, remove the fish bones cleanly.
Next, place the fish bones and some fish stocks into the mixing bowl to blend finely for 2 minutes at speed 6 to 10.
After that, strain the thick mixture into the fish stock that was left aside in a pot before. Make sure that the fish bones are completely strained to prevent choking hazard.
Put all the ingredients from ingredient group 2 into a mixing bowl and blend it until fine for 1 minute at speed 6-10.
Add in ingredients from ingredient group 3 and the fish stock as well as the fish flesh and cook at 100°C for 30 minutes at reverse spoon speed.
The laksa broth is now done!
To serve, blanch and place the Laksa noodle, a chewy type of noodle, into a serving bowl, topped with strips of lettuce, cucumber, pineapple, onion, red chili and chili padi. Top it off with a spoonful of hae ko (shrimp paste) at the side to your preferred taste.
?: If you want to prevent a fishy Penang Assam Laksa broth, make sure to choose fresh fishes as your broth base.
?: If you are looking for a lighter taste, you can skip the spoonful of shrimp paste on the side.
?: For more a more sour taste, you can always add in fresh lime juice into the broth to get a refreshing burst of flavour.