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Asam Laksa-Hot and Spicy

Asam Laksa: Hot and Spicy Northwest Malaysian Specialty

By: Erna Dyanty

Asam Laksa-Hot and Spicy

Enticing hot and spicy blend of rice noodles, fish broth and tamarind juice

Asam Laksa is a serving of short and fat Asian rice noodles. It is served in a bowl of piping hot-spicy-fish broth infused with tamarind juice to enhance the flavor of the fish. This laksa can be found mainly in the north-west cost of the Malaysian Peninsular, in states such as Penang, Kedah, Perak and Perlis.

All laksa broths have the same base which starts out with using fish as its main ingredient. There are three types of laksa categories in Malaysia; the asam broth laksa, the curry base laksa and coconut milk based laksa. The type of noodles used in the laksa also differs according to recipes. Sarawak laksa is a light curry based laksa that uses vermicelli noodles; where as in Johor they use spaghetti and topped with thick sardine and coconut milk gravy and in Kelantan the Somtam uses a light coconut milk and fish broth with short chunky2 inch noodles.

This recipe I am about to share with you is my mother-in-law’s recipe. This is one of her many specialties which she only makes during Eid and special occasions. I hope you will enjoy making this recipe at home. Perfect served with a nice cold glass of sirap!

*this recipe takes a bit longer to make but worth the wait.


Spice Paste

150g shallots
3 lemongrass
5 red chillies
3 dried chillies
4 tbsp of dried belacan
salt to taste


500g wolf-herring or mackerel or sardines
1 cup of tamarind juice
1 liter of water
2 stalks of daun kesum (polygonum)

Cooking Instructions

  1. Ground all the spice to form a thick paste.
  2. Cut, wash and clean the fish and place into a steamer. Steam till fish is cooked. Once cooked, remove the fish and flake them. Set aside.
  3. Upon removing the fish, there will be a pool of clear fish broth in the pot. Use this as your stock. Add to this the tamarind juice, water, daun kesum and spice paste.
  4. Bring this to a boil and let simmer till aromatic. As you turn off the heat, add your flaked fish and salt to taste.

1 cucumber julienned
sliced pineanpple (into small triangular pieces)
sliced red onions
1 stalk of chopped ginger flower
red chillies
mint leaves for garnish
½ a lime to squeeze over the top
1 hardboiled egg, halved

  • Put your noodles and broth into a bowl, then garnish the top with all the toppings.

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