Penang Assam Laksa (亚参叻沙)



I have been holding on the preparation of Assam laksa because of 3 herbs and 2 of which create the distinctive flavour as compared to other laksa. These three herbs are laksa leaves (daun kesom) , torch ginger (bunga kantan) and normal mint leaves. Usually, the supermarket are selling a bundle or a package and other than this recipe, I have no idea what to use for the leftover laksa leaves and torch ginger.


After blogging so many one pot noodle dishes, I have no other reasons to further delay the sharing of this famous Assam laksa.


If you look at the definition of laksa in Wikipedia, one will know that laksa basically belong to 2 broad categories – tamarind based as in Assam laksa or coconut milk based laksa as in curry laksa. The third category is the Sarawak laksa which is both tamarind and coconut milk based laksa..If you are interested in learning Sarawak laksa you can refer to this post: Hi, Let Start Cooking the Laksa …. An In Depth Analysis and Pictorial Procedural Description Of The Famous Sarawak Laksa (Part III)


If you are interested in the curry based laksa, you can refer to this post: Another Hawker Centre Noodle Dish–Curry Laksa or Curry Mee (咖喱叻沙, 咖喱面)


This post is to detail the recipe of Assam laksa. Assam is tamarind in Malay and as the name suggest, the noodle dish is slightly tangy and balanced by the sweetness from the fish broth. Unlike the curry laksa of which the broth is mainly prepared from chicken stock, Assam laksa’s tasty broth is prepared from fish.. Besides tamarind, assam laksa will not be much difference from other laksa if not because of the following 2 special herbs. One of them is the bunga kantan or ginger torch  or Etlingera elatior as follows. If you are interested to read more about this aromatic flower, you can refer to : Etlingera elatior – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia .

Another special herb for this laksa is what is called laksa leaves or daun kesum. Per Wikipedia, it was written that :

Persicaria odorata, the Vietnamese coriander, is a herb whose leaves are used in Southeast Asian cooking. Other English names for the herb include Vietnamese mint, Vietnamese cilantro, Cambodian mint, hot mint, and laksa leaf.In Singapore and Malaysia, the shredded leaf is an essential ingredient of laksa, a spicy noodle soup, so much so that the Malay namedaun laksa means “laksa leaf.”

Since Wikipedia have a very detailed description of Assam laksa, I am rather reluctant to rephrase the well written description of this unique laksa dish. As per Wikipedia,

“Asam laksa is a sour, fish-based soup. It is listed at number 7 on World’s 50 most delicious foods complied by CNN Go in 2011. Asam is the Malay word for anything that makes a dish sour (e.g. tamarind or kokum). Laksa typically uses asam keping, known as kokum in the English speaking world), which is a type of dried slices of sour mangosteens. The modern Malay spelling is asam, though the spelling assam is still frequently used. The main ingredients for asam laksa include shredded fish, normally kembung fish or mackerel, and finely sliced vegetables including cucumber, onions, red chillies, pineapple, lettuce, common mint, “daun kesum” (Vietnamese mint or laksa mint) and pink bunga kantan (torch ginger). Asam laksa is normally served with either thick rice noodles or thin rice noodles (vermicelli). And topped off with “petis udang” or “hae ko” (蝦羔), a thick sweet prawn/shrimp paste.”


Though I seldom ordered Assam laksa when I dined out, but it is my wife’s favourite dish as she was educated in the Penang, Malaysia where the state is famous forits Assam laksa…


The outcome of this adventure is very satisfactory.. I have asked my wife to taste and give objectives comments to the dish as I am afraid that I will be prejudiced.. Asking her if there is anything wrong, her comments was “good”..otherwise, she would not have finished two bowls for dinner.. But I am very happy that my kids who are never exposed to this dish also like the noodle dish.. Of course minus all the garnishes that kids will not like at their age such as big onions, calamansi etc.. Eventually, they only ate the noodles with the gravy and some cucumber.. Haha.



Recipe adapted from: Family Recipe for Asam Laksa – Season with Spice

Servings: 4-6 adult servings


Spice paste (rempah)

  • 6 shallots
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 5 cm of fresh turmeric
  • 3 cm of galangal
  • 3 stalks of lemon grass
  • 10 dried chillies , soaked
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1/2 bud of bunga kantan
  • 2 tablespoons of shrimp paste (belachan)


  • 5-6 mackerel (Ikan kembong)
  • 4-5 stalks of Vietnamese mint (daun kesum)
  • 2 tablespoons of tamarind paste
  • 3 pieces of tamarind peel (Assam keping)
  • 12-15 cups of plain water
  • Pinches of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of white sugar


Assembly and garnishing

  • 500 grams of laksa noodles or thick rice vermicelli , blanched
  • 1 small pineapple , cut into small pieces
  • 1 red big onion – sliced thinly
  • a handful of mint leaves
  • 1 cucumber , julienned into small stripes
  • 1 red chilli  or 2-3 bird eye chillies, cut into small pieces
  • 5 tablespoons of Heko (Sweetened thick shrimp sauce)
  • 3 calamansi, cut into half
  • Some lettuces , sliced thinly
  • half a bunga kantan, sliced thinly




  • Put all spice mix or rempah ingredients in a blender. Add adequate water to cover the herbs. Blend as fine as possible. Set aside.

  • Put the tamarind paste in a bowl, add 1-2 cups of water, use the hand to squeeze the tamarind paste in the water until all the seeds comes out. Drain the Assam juices and sift them onto another bowl. Throw away the seeds and set aside.


  • Put the water in a pot. Bring to boil. Once it boils, add the fishes. Boil the fish until cooked which took about 10 minutes.  Off the heat. Take out the fish and keep the fish stock. Debone the fish.


  • Put the spice mix into the fish stalk followed by tamarind juice, daun kesom and fish meat. Bring to boil. Once it boils, lower the heat to medium and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Add the salt and sugar. Off the heat.


  • For assembly, have a bowl. Placed some laksa noodles. Pour some soup until it covers the noodles. Garnish with mint leaves, pineapple slices, red chilli, shredded cucumber, sliced red onions, lettuces, bunga kanatan, calamansi and drizzle with the thick shrimp sauce (Heko). Best served warm as a one dish noodle meal.



This is a rather long post. I am happy that my family have finished it all. If these pictures entice your appetite, why not give it a try? Remember that this is a savoury dish, do feel free to adjust to the one that used to eat locally. How about adding a hard boiled egg? 


This recipe was included in Page 1-3 of the “One Pot Noodle E-book”. For more One Pot Noodle Dishes, you can have a copy of Easy One Pot Noodles  – A step by step guide” that was packed with 30 recipes, 60 pages at a reasonable convenience fee of USD5.00. The recipes covered various recipes from curry laksa, prawn noodles to fish head beehoon and etc. Of course not forgetting the well like Economy Bee hoon and Mee Rebus . You can purchase by clicking the link above.You can either pay using Pay Pal or Credit card account. Please ensure that you have an PDF reader like Acrobat or iBooks in your mobile phone or iPad if you intended to read it in your ipad or mobile phone. Should there be any problems of purchasing, feel free to contact me at and separate arrangement can be made.


Hope you like the post today. Cheers and have a nice day.



7 thoughts on “Penang Assam Laksa (亚参叻沙)

  1. Pingback: Siamese Laksa (Laksa Thai, Laksa Siam or 暹罗辣沙) | GUAI SHU SHU

    • assam (ˈæsæm; Malay ˈasam)
      1. (Cookery) (in Malaysia) tamarind as used in cooking. Assam ikan is a dish of fish cooked with tamarind
      [from Malay asam sour]

      I have to be honest I am unsure and I think Assam is English and Malay is asam

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