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Monday, September 22, 2014

Penang (Assam) Laksa (With Fresh Sardines)

The first time I had this penang laksa was when I was 10, my grandparents brought us to Penang for a road trip, we visited the famous Kek Lok Si (极乐寺)and enjoyed this famous Penang laksa down hill before climbing up to the temple.

I have to be honest that the first attempt was pretty rough as I didn't quiet comprehend the spicy sourish soup base. As I grow older and Penang laksa started expanding their territories down south, I grow into liking this spicy fish soup noodle more. 

I loved the fact that it brought together so many fresh ingredients and gives such a rich experience to the taste buds.

Ingredients for Paste: 
8-10 dried chilies
2-3 stalks of lemon grass - used only the white part, chopped
1 piece turmeric (thumb size)
2 tbsp of belachan (fermented shrimp paste) (around the size of 1 domino card)
80 gm of shallots

Ingredients for soup based:
2 lbs of frozen/fresh sardines (or Indian mackerels)
10-12 sprigs of laksa/Vietnamese mint leaves/Polygonom leaves (daun kesom) use only the leaves
2 Torch ginger flower (Bunga kantan) I used the frozen ones (Coarsely sliced)
4-5 slices of dried Garcinia Cambogia (Assam keping/Gelugor)
2 tbsp tamarind paste (Assam Jawa)
1 piece galangal (Lengkuas) (thumb size)
1-2 tsp salt or to taste
1 tbsp sugar

Other ingredients and garnish:
2 packets of laksa noodle (濑粉)
1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, de-eyed, and shredded
2 cups of fresh mint leaves
2-3 pieces of shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, seeded and shredded
1 red chili (sliced)
2 tbsp of  sweet fermented shrimp paste (Hae ko) Dilute with 3 tbsp of hot water

1. Defrost the sardines, clean the sardines by remove scales and guts, rinsed and wash thoroughly before cooking.

2. Bring 12-15 cups of water to boil, add the sardines and cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the fishes are cooked. Remove sardines from the soup and set aside to cool.

3. Sliced galangal, chopped the torch ginger flower and cleaned the Vietnamese mint leaves, add these ingredients into soup and boil at medium heat for another 25-30 minutes.

4. When the sardines cooled down enough to work on, pick the flesh out of all the fishes, break the meat into smaller pieces. Discard the bones and heads.

5. Grind all ingredients under Ingredients for paste into a smooth paste, in a cooking pot, heat up 2-3 tbsp of oil, cook the paste for 8-10 minutes of until oil separated at the edge.

6. Dish out all galangal pieces and part of vietnamese leaves and ginger torch, try to keep half of the vietnamese mint in the soup.

7. Add cleaned Garcinia Cambogia (Assam keping/Gelugor) and cooked chili paste into pot and boil for another 10 minutes, add the fish pieces and cook for another 10 minutes, season with sugar, salt and tamarind paste, adjust taste to your liking and cook for another 10 minutes, the fish soup is ready.

8. Bring a pot of hot water to boil and cook the noodle, prepared all garnishes accordingly.

9. Place some noodle in a bowl, add the soup and garnish with all the garnishing ingredients, serve with some fermented shrimp paste.

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