Assam Laksa (亚参叻沙) – spicy & tangy
Assam Laksa has an unique taste, quite different from the popular laksa that has a sweet coconut milk base. The gravy of Assam Laksa is tangy and made with tamarind (assam) and fish stock. Other distinctive ingredients are the sweet thick shrimp paste and ginger flower bud. It’s not easy to find some of these ingredients in regions other than South East Asia e.g. I wasn’t able to find any ginger flower bud. Nevertheless, the assam laksa turned out to be quite tasty, even without the ginger flower buds.
- 200 gm laksa noodle (use Elephant brand guilin rice vermicelli)
- 500 gm mackerel (use tin mackerel in brine – flake the meat & remove bones, if any)
- Spice paste – pound together:
- 8 shallots
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 dried chillies (de-seeded)
- 3 fresh chillies (de-seeded)
- 1 tbsp galanggal (sliced)
- 2 candle nuts
- 1 tbsp lemon grass powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp roasted belachan
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 sprig Vietnamese mint (stalks for stock & leaves for garnish)
- 600 ml of water
- Salt (to taste)
- Sugar (to taste)
- Fish sauce (to taste)
- Garnish: (add a bit of each type for each bowl)
- Cucumber (thin strips)
- Mint leaves (from sprig above)
- Pineapple (small pieces)
- Lettuce (finely shredded)
- 1 tsp sweet thick shrimp paste (hay ko)
- Fresh chilli (thinly sliced)
- Ginger flower bud (shredded) – if available
1. Boil 8 cups of water in a pot. Add fish and brine and boil for about 10 mins.
2. Add 1 tbsp of tamarind paste and Vietnamese mint leaves into the fish stock. Cover with lid and simmer for 15 mins.
3. Heat oil in a small sauce pan and add spice paste. Fry over low heat for about 8-10 mins until fragrant and spicy.
4. Add fried spice paste into the simmering fish stock. Continue to simmer for another 15 mins.
5. Add salt, sugar and fish sauce. Taste the stock and adjust seasoning to taste, if required.
6. Boil rice vermicelli in salted boiling water till tender. Place cooked rice vermicelli into serving bowls and garnish with cucumber, mint leaves, pineapple, chilli, lettuce & ginger flower bud, if available.
7. Ladle a generous amount of assam laksa soup into the bowl and top with a spoon containing sweet thick shrimp paste on the side.
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