Asam Laksa can happen in Hertfordshire, England.
A couple of decades ago I I was missing Asam Laksa so much but it was near impossible to find all the ingredients here. I was ‘importing’ my stash every time I balik kampung 😀
My stash included torch ginger (bunga kantan), polygonum odoratum (daun kesum) and calamansi lime (limau kesturi) but nowadays they are able to be gotten here but still not easy.
Today I have decided to use some of my stash from Malaysia to cook Asam Laksa as I am going to replenish my stash soon.
For my paste I like to add a small bit of turmeric and galangal (blue ginger) Both these ingredients are easy to find here in Chinatown.
TIP 1 – To get a clear fish broth sieve it once with a normal sieve then sieve it a second time by placing a sheet of kitchen roll on your sieve as an extra lining for a much clearer fish broth.
TIP 2 – Blend your spices till fine. I like to blend some of my lemon grass and torch ginger besides adding some to boil with the broth.
TIP 3 – Remove the big bits from your broth before adding in your fish meat.
Actually Asam Laksa is very easy to cook. Years of working and cooking for a family you learn to organise yourself.
I like to boil and picked my fish the night before and the next day just blend and fry the paste. Mush easier and less stress.
Note – I have tried ordering asam laksa outside and I have yet to find one I am willing to part my ££ for! A famous restaurant in Chinatown which I once took a Japanese friend to try (after singing the virtue of how cool and different asam laksa is) was a HUGE let down.
When I queried, the waitress told me it just tin sardines + chilli + asam jawa water and the people working there don’t even eat it! Till this day I am still shocked!
When I read some good reviews recently I think I have to go and try again to see if they have ‘updated’ their asam laksa OR maybe I am just fussy? – kekekekekeke
A good asam laksa (my opinion)
1 – The broth should not be a murky dark brown or look like curry. It should be a clear fish broth with hint of red chilli oil.
2 – The mackerels if you have picked yourself should be in chunks not in bits.
3 – The taste should be sour, spicy, taste of lemongrass, galangal and most important of all the combo of torch ginger and laksa leaves!
Note – Remember the heh ko/prawn paste is sweet. Use as much or as little as you like.
- 2 kg Mackerels
- 3 slices Ginger
Asam laksa stock
- Daun kesom/daun laksa.
- Spice paste (refer below)
- Asam Jawa (tamarind) juice
- Asam Jawa (tamarind slices) keping
- Bunga kantan (torch ginger)
- Lemon grass
Spices to blend finely
- Dried chillies soaked
- Fresh red chillies
- Bunga kantan (torch ginger)
- Small piece of galangal
- Small piece of turmeric
- White bits of lemongrass
- Mint leaves
- Red onions
- Pink bunga kantan slices
- heh ko/prawn paste
For the fish broth
- First boil the fish to make the broth but only for about 10 minutes. Do not over boil. Remove the fishes and let them cool down. If you boiled too long your fish will be too soft and hard to pick. (I am not old enough to eat mushy food, yet!)
- Pick out all the meat and place the bones back to boil for about 30 minutes to an hour to make a flavoursome broth.
- Place the fish meat into containers and in the fridge. You can sieve the stock and store in your fridge (if you like to do this part the night before) I like to leave it overnight.
Asam Laksa broth
- Fry your paste with a touch of oil till fragrant. Then add your fish broth in. Continue to simmer for at least 30 minutes on low heat before adding in the fish meat
- The secret and special addition of a tin of sardine is added at the last minute! Taste and season. I like mine very sour and I add more asam jawa juice.
- While your stock is simmering on low heat, slice your pineapple, cucumber, red onions and soak your noodles.
- Serve by placing your noodles, broth and the garnishes on top.
- Lastly add in the heh ko/prawn paste. Asam laksa is not the same without this (my opinion)