There are many different types of laksa (spicy noodle soup) in Malaysia. Almost every state has their own version of this popular dish. Most have a coconut based curry soup like Kuala Lumpur’s fabulous Curry Laksa. The exceptions to the rule are Laksa Kedah and Penang’s Asam Laksa with their tangy tamarind based soups.
I am a big fan of laksa and hope to share as many versions as I can on this blog. Today’s Siamese Laksa, also known as Laksa Lemak is found on the island of Penang. It is like the creamy version of asam laksa with basically the same ingredients. The two are often mixed in one bowl by the locals.
Asam Laksa is a kind of asam pedas (spciy tangy soup) which does not require its spice paste to be fried. Siamese Laksa like most other coconut based curry, benefits from its spice paste being tumis (fried) to bring out its fragrance. Hence, Siamese Laksa is a little richer than asam laksa. It is more creamy and less tangy.
I am uncertain as to the origin of Siamese Laksa. Its name may or may not suggest an association with Thailand. Whatever the case may be, it is indeed a very tasty and delicious bowl of spicy noodle soup. I’ve always enjoyed this laksa and look forward to eating it when I visit Penang. Apart from Penang, I have not encountered it anywhere else on the Peninsula. So glad to be able to find the ingredients to make it at home now. 🙂
Note: Please do refer to my Asam Laksa post for pictures and explanations on some of the ingredients used in this recipe.
- 3 (20 oz/567g) yellowtail or chubb mackerel (ikan kembung), gutted and scaled
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 slices asam gelugor (dried tamarind)
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- 20 stalks polygonum (daun kesom/a.k.a. Vietnamese coriander or mint)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 can (14 oz/414 ml) coconut milk
- 10 oz (283g) dried coarse vermicelli or 2 packets (30 oz/950g) fresh thick rice noodles**
- 1 small cucumber, julienned
- ½ pineapple, julienned
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 red chilies, seeds removed and thinly sliced
- 6 stalks mint leaves, stem removed
- 12 to 15 stalks polygonum (daun kesom/Vietnamese coriander or mint), stems removed
- 2 torch ginger (bunga kantan), thinly sliced, optional
- 4 tbsp shrimp paste (hei ko)
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- 7 dried chilies, seeded, soaked in warm water, and drained
- 3 red chilies, seeded, and cut into pieces
- 10 shallots, peeled, and cut into quarters
- 2 stalks lemongrass, bottom third only, thinly sliced
- 2 inch knob galangal
- 1 inch knob fresh turmeric, peeled
- 6 candlenuts
- ¾ inch cube belacan (shrimp paste), toasted
- Blend spice paste ingredients with ¼ cup (60ml) water. Transfer to a bowl.
- Bring 2 cups (480ml) water in a large pan to a boil. Add mackerel, lower heat to medium low and poach for 15 minutes. Remove fish when cooked. Strain liquid with a metal strainer. You should get about 1 cup (240ml) fish stock.
- When fish is cool enough to handle, remove bones and flake the meat. Break into small pieces but keep some in bigger chunks.
- Heat vegetable oil in a large pot and stir fry ground spice paste and kaffir lime leaves until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add fish stock, coconut milk, and 2¼ cups (540ml) water.
- Add asam gelugor and daun kesum.
- Return flaked fish to the pot.
- Bring soup to a gentle boil. Season with sugar and salt. Lower heat, and allow it to simmer to 10 minutes.
- Cook dried coarse vermicelli in boiling water for a minute. Then turn off heat and let it soak for 6 to 8 minutes until soften. Remove and drain before serving.
- Place some noodles in a bowl. Top with a little julienned cucumber, pineapple, onion, red chili, mint leaves, daun kesum, and torch ginger(if available). Pour gravy over the noodles.
- Serve immediately with hei ko (shrimp paste) and lime wedges.
Like asam laksa, this Siamese Laksa has the same garnishes (toppings) including hei ko (shrimp paste). It is highly recommended for a richer and more authentic flavor. Do give it a try.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎