When I first read that the theme for this week’s Sunday Supper was going to be Asian food I knew I had to make something from our trip to Malaysia in June. I haven’t been very good at sharing things from that trip so it was a good prompt to get on and recreate something else that I had there before I forgot too much. But what to choose? There were some great dessert/snack things which I keep meaning to try, but for this I wanted to try a main dish I had while there that was so flavorful, and that I knew that my husband would love (since unfortunately he missed being there at the time), asam laksa.
You may have had laksa before and think of it as a spicy broth with noodles in it, made with a spice paste and coconut milk. Well asam laksa is similar in most ways but the big difference is there’s no coconut milk and instead there’s a sweet-sour spicy broth made with tamarind (asam is tamarind in Malay). It is traditionally from the Penang area of Malaysia, which unfortunately I didn’t have time to visit, but I instead had it in KL, which like most bustling capital cities has pretty much any food available you could ask for. I certainly wasn’t disappointed by this dish.
The broth in asam laksa is also a bit different from some other laksas – it is made with fish and the fish is enjoyed along with the broth, rice noodles and various garnishes. The garnishes can vary, but they are typically cucumber, pineapple, mint and then maybe chili and/or ginger. They can be served on top already, or, as is fun to do at home, separately so everyone can add as much or as little as they like.
There is so much flavor going on in this dish – just see all the fantastic ingredients in the spice paste. There’s (left to right below) chilis, lemongrass, shallots, turmeric root, garlic and ginger root. I have kept relatively traditional in the spice paste ingredients but with a couple of variations based on what I could get hold of and the flavors I was looking for. Turmeric root is something I have not cooked with before, but as I was able to find it in my local supermarket and it was in a few recipes I found, I figured it was worth adding into the mix, since turmeric in any form is good.
As I was reading through variations on asam laksa and deciding how to make my own, I was excited about making it, between the range of flavors and freshness (not to mention the fun of adding your own garnishes and slurping on noodles). The end result didn’t disappoint and I know I will have to try to make it again soon. In fact I kind of have to as I want to see if I can get a little more flavor to stay in the broth by not having to strain it, as so many recipes I saw did. True, it gives you a nice clear broth and avoids any issue of having bones in there since most add the fish bones back in after the initial cooking of the fish, but at least with my strainer, it meant much of the spice paste was strained out as well. Personally I’d rather have all that in there too! That’s not to say it wasn’t flavorful, it definitely was, I just think it might be that bit better yet using the method I’ve described in the recipe below.
Overall, this, like many Asian dishes, is one that has a number of ingredients but really isn’t complicated to make and is thoroughly delicious. There is so much great flavor going on and it’s kind of fun to eat, too. So get chopping and make it soon.
- 4 (or more, to taste) red chilis
- ½ cup diced shallots - approx 3-4
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- a small piece of turmeric root (approx 1in/2.5cm length, ⅓in/1cm wide)
- a 1in/2.5cm piece of ginger
- 2tsp shrimp paste
- 1 mackerel (approx 12oz)
- 4 cups of water
- 1tbsp tamarind concentrate or more to taste
- a sprig of Vietnamese mint, if available
- 1tbsp sugar
- ½tsp salt
- ½lb rice noodles (dried weight)
- Garnishes -
- approx ¼ cucumber
- approx ¼ cup pineapple
- ¼ red onion
- a few slices of fresh ginger
- a few sprigs of mint plus Vietnamese mint, if available
- slices of red chili (optional)
- Prepare spice paste ingredients - deseed and roughly chop the chilis, peel and dice the shallots, remove outer layer of lemongrass and finely chop, peel the garlic, turmeric, and ginger and roughly chop. Place all in a blender along with the shrimp paste and blend until smooth.
- Place the cleaned mackerel in a large pot with the water and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes then remove the fish.
- Add the spice paste, tamarind concentrate and Vietnamese mint (if using) to the fishy broth. Carefully remove the fish flesh from the bones and set it aside then put the bones in a piece of muslim cloth, tie it up and add back to the stock so they can infuse it without going into the broth. Reduce to a simmer and cook another 10-20 minutes.
- While the broth is cooking, cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions and drain.
- Prepare garnishes by cutting the cucumber, pineapple and onion into thin slices (typically you skin and remove seeds from cucumber but as you prefer).
- Add some noodles to the bottom of some bowls. Remove the muslim bundle of bones from the broth and the mint sprig. Add in sugar, salt and adjust seasoning to taste.
- Pour some broth over the noodles then top with some chunks of fish and your choice of garnishes, or allow people to add themselves. Serve immediately.
See all the other Asian cuisine recipes being shared this week:
- Baked Turkey Lumpia – Filipino Eggroll by Food Done Light
- Crab Ragoon by Recipes Food and Cooking
- Fried Rice by Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Homemade Sushi by The Freshman Cook
- Mango Pudding by Brunch with Joy
- Shrimp Rangoon Egg Rolls with Honey-Soy Dipping Sauce by The Weekend Gourmet
- Thai Style Sliders by Cupcakes & Kale Chips
- Venison Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce by Grumpy’s Honeybunch
- Asam Laksa by Caroline’s Cooking
- Bacon Miso Ramen by The Crumby Cupcake
- Bok Choy Gai See Tong (Bok Choy and Shredded Chicken Soup) by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Pork Prawn Wonton Soup by Food Lust People Love
- Asian Beef and Green Bean Stir-Fry by Family Foodie
- Banh Mi Hot Dog by Life Tastes Good
- Beef Lo Mein by Cosmopolitan Cornbread
- Cheese Korokke by Manu’s Menu
- Chicken Zoodle “Lo Mein” by Casa de Crews
- Easy Chow Mein by Momma’s Meals
- Ginger-Citrus Grilled Salmon by Palatable Pastime
- Grilled Pork Báhn Mì by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
- Grilled Tandoori Chicken by Cooking Chat
- Hoisin Burgers with Peanut Slaw by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Ojingeo Bokkeum (Korean Spicy Stir-fried Squid) by kimchi MOM
- Oven Simmered Asian BBQ Chicken by What Smells So Good?
- Pad Thai by Curious Cuisiniere
- Seven Flavor Precious Chicken by Nosh My Way
- Sri Lankan Vegetable Curry by Panning The Globe
- Thai Chicken by Feeding Big
- Vietnamese Flank Steak by Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen
On the Lighter Side
- Copy Cat: CPK Thai Salad by Sew You Think You Can Cook
- Crispy Asian Noodle Salad by Ruffles & Truffles
- Nam Sod (Thai Pork Salad) by Magnolia Days
- Soba Noodle Salad by Jane’s Adventures in Dinner
- Best Wines To Pair with Asian Cuisine by ENOFYLZ Wine Blog
Oodles of Noodles
- Asian Noodle Types and 34 Best Asian Recipes by SundaySupper
Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.
Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.