Asam laksa may be the best laksa ever. Even food explorer guru Anthony Bourdain loves this sour and spicy noodle dish. He claimed that he never fails to have it each time he travels to Penang. I can understand his enthusiasm when I sat almost exactly where he had his bowl of Malaysian sour and spicy fish soup noodles.
Type of fish used in Asam Laksa
In this recipe, Spanish mackerels are used as the base of the broth. In Malaysia, Indian mackerel (ikan kembung) is the more popular option. Besides mackerels, sardines or skip jack tuna (ikan tongkol) may be used too.
How to prevent fishy broth?
Using fresh fish is the key to prevent the broth from becoming fishy. As a guide, ensure that the eyes of the fish are clear and the gills are bright red when choosing fish. Just a reminder, though. Be sure to remove the bones thoroughly after boiling the fish.
Substitutes for ingredients
The asam laksa broth is uniquely sour because of two ingredients - 'asam gelugor' and tamarind paste. However, out of Southeast Asia, asam gelugor may not be available. Therefore, add more tamarind paste to create the sourish taste in asam laksa.
The other special ingredient which is tough to find is ginger torch flower. Usually, they are sold at the markets. Just skip this ingredient if you are unable to find it.
Type of noodles used in asam laksa
Asam laksa uses very thick rice noodles which are not easily found out of Malaysia or Singapore. Therefore, make them using the recipe here. Otherwise, udon noodles are a great substitute. Although made using wheat flour, they are thick and tender just like those used in asam laksa.
With so many tantalizing flavours coming together, this dish is a definite delight to savour. The smoothness of the noodles, small pieces of fish, shrimp paste, fresh shallots, cucumber, pineapple slices and the slightly spicy sourish soup just complement each other so well. The soup will surely tease your taste buds and stirs up your appetite with every mouthful. Of course, it is such a pretty dish too!