Nonya Recipes #1

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Penang Laksa

Recipe Name: Penang Laksa

Category: Nonya/Penang

Penang Laksa comes in two flavours. Laksa assam is made from noodles and fish paste soup. Tamarind or assam is the main ingredient for the soup apart from shrimp paste and mint leaves. Shredded cucumber slices are added along with a sprinkling of other vegetables like lettuce, onions, pineapple and the sliced ginger flower-bud called 'bunga kantan'. Laksa lemak, of Thai origin, is slightly milder. The basic ingredients are the same but coconut milk is used instead of tamarind. The Penang Laksa in this recipe is the "assam" variety.

Ingredients List: goto glossary

a) 1.5 Kg of fish ( use either ikan parang or ikan kembong)
b) 10 cups water
c) 12 dried chillies - scalded and left to stand
d) 6 fresh red chillies
e) thumb-sized piece of mature turmeric
f) 3 stalks of serai
g) 300 gm shallots
h) 200 gm belachan
i) 2 stalks of bunga kantan
j) 8 stalks of daun kesom
k) 1 Tbsp sugar
l) 2 tsp salt
m) 2 cups assam water
n) 1 cucumber
o) half a pineapple
p) 1 big onion
q) 1 bunch mint leaves
r) 1 stalk lettuce
s) 20 pieces "kew tow"
t) 2 sweet pickled cucumber
u) laksa noodles


The items c) to g) are finely ground; using only 3 of the red chillies for grinding, as the other 3 chillies are sliced and are for the the garnishment, while the fish is deboned after cooking
The "bunga kantan" and the "daum kesum" are thinly sliced; use only one of the "bunga kantan" for the gravy; the other is meant for the garnishment.

for the gravy -
Bring water to the boil and cook fish. Debone fish and return fish bones to the stock and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, then strain the stock. Add ground ingrediants to the stock and boil with one bunga kantan and the daum kesum. Simmer for 20 more minutes. Add the deboned and shredded fish and the assam water, and season to taste.

for the vegetable garnishment -
Except for the mint leaves which are washed and destalked, slice or shred all the items from n) to t) plus 3 red chilles and the bungah kantan. Arrange the vegetables in separate containers at the table.

for the toppings -
1 bowl "haeko" (black prawn paste) mixed with water to flowing consistency

To Serve: Place the laksa noodles in a bowl. Top them with your choice of sliced or shredded vegetable garnishment, then ladle simmering gravy over the noodles. Add a spoonful of "haeko".

Comments: This laksa is different from the Singapore version. However, for those in Singapore who have acquired the taste for Penang laksa, looks like the only way to enjoy it often, is to prepare it yourself by following my mother's recipe that I have provided here (or to email me for advice on what else to do! ).


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