Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fried Assam Laksa

laksa
Fried assam laksa noodles

Is it just me who has never heard of fried assam laksa? I love Penang assam laksa, and even flew to Penang last year just to eat it. When I saw the recipe for fried assam laksa in a recent copy of Flavour magazine, I knew I had to cook the dish.

It is VERY hot and dry in KK now, and bunga kantan (kantan flowers, known as torch ginger buds for their shape) are aplenty in our markets. I love the scent of these buds, so much that I'm going to have a bunga kantan plant in my garden if I can get hold of one. Bunga kantan is an essential ingredient for making assam laksa. Without it, it is like Hokkien mee without pork crackling and pork oil. If you can't get your hands on some, you shouldn't attempt this dish. But poor you, you'll be missing out on a fantastic noodles dish. I think this dish will be a hit at pot luck dinners and gatherings, and unlike the original Penang assam laksa, this dish doesn't require as much work.

Asian dishes are very colorful and flavor-centered, and fried assam laksa has about 10 different highly scented and flavored ingredients that not only satisfy your tastebuds, but also your nose and your eyes. I have made quite a bit of adjustments to the original recipe, starting with the noodles. We just can't get fresh assam noodles here. Even dried assam noodles are hard to find. I think a good substitute would be what we call 'mouse noodles', those short rice noodles with a tapered end. I also added extra ingredients such as belacan, sweet shrimp paste, canned tuna, daun kesom and mint. These are basically the same ingredients used in the traditional assam laksa. Instead of mixing in and frying the traditional garnishing of cucumber and onions, I used them as garnishing and added bunga kantan, bombay onions, red chili and cucumber, as in traditional Penang assam laksa. What I missed out and will add next time I cook this is pineapple bits. That will really jazz this dish up and help blend all the different flavors. The ingredients list looks scary but it was okay for me because I grow most of the ingredients in my garden.

This noodle dish reminds me of Siam noodles, but it has even more intense and varied flavors. It also is very healthy since only a small amount of oil is used for frying and there are lots of fiber in the herbs and veg. We ate the whole plate of noodles for tea, the 4 of us. I nearly licked the plate.

laksa1

Fried Assam Laksa
400 g dried assam laksa noodles, soaked in room temp water for 2 hours (or about 1 kg fresh)
1 large bunga kantan, sliced very very fine, divided into 2 parts
1/2 bulb garlic, minced
5 shallots, sliced
2 stalks of lemon grass (serai), the 'heart' sliced very finely
1/2 cup dried shrimps, soaked until soft, drained and chopped
1 can tuna chunks or flakes
1 x 40 g (about 2 T) pkt tomyam paste (I used Adabi brand)
1-2 t belacan
1 T sweet shrimp paste (hae ko)
juice from 3 limes or 1/2 cup thick assam water (or a mixture of)
1 t chicken stock powder
1/2 cup water (if using dried noodles &/or limes instead of fresh noodles &/or assam water)
3 T veg oil

garnishing:
1/2 the bunga kantan
1 Bombay onion, sliced into half rings
1 small stalk of lettuce, washed & sliced into 1 cm shreds
1 small Lebanese or Taiwanese cucumber, julienned
1 red chili, in thin strips
4-5 chili padis (optional)
1 cup pineapple, in small chunks
4-5 daun kesom, sliced into very very very thin strips
a small handful of mint

kasturi limes to serve with

1. Put oil into a heated wok and add the garlic, shallots and dried shrimps. Fry until lightly browned/golden, add the tomyam paste and belacan, stirring well to mix.

2. Add the shrimp paste and water/assam water if using. Add the chicken stock, stirring well.

3. Add the noodles and stir fry with a ladle and pair of chopsticks, taking care not to cut or break the noodles.

4. Now add the lemon grass, 1/2 the bunga kantan and lime juice (if using instead of assam water) and season with salt if necessary. If noodles are too hard, add some water.

5. Arrange the lettuce on a large plate or bowl, ladle the noodles over the lettuce and top with all the remaining garnish. Serve with kasturi limes on the side.

19 comments:

Plain Jane said...

Would you like a Bunga Kantan plant? :-)

SL said...

Hi Terri,

One question unrelated to this post. I tried making those soft buns using your recipe last nite. When it came out of the oven, it was so soft and yummy. However, this morning it became a bit harder and a little drier. But if toasted, its still great. The question is, is it because i didnt add enough liquid? Actually, i added about 265ml of liquid. Or i didnt knead long enough? I dont have one of those standing mixer. I used the hand mixer with the dough hook and i think the dough was a little too much work for the mixer and it sort of died one me and i had to hand knead it.

thanks..
SL

Anonymous said...

Wow! Looks so good. Can you cook this dish for our next get together? ;) Puleeze...
R

Johnathan Oh said...

i Terri, wow! That is one of the most beautiful dish I have seen one your blog! Congrats!!!

J2Kfm said...

there's an outlet in KL which serves this right?
rmbr from masak-masak's post.

Lyrical Lemongrass said...

oh wow. i'm bookmarking your recipe to try it later. I have a weakness for assam laksa and this looks quite easy to prepare. It's visually pleasing too, isn't it? Good job, Terri!

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri..Thank you for the recipe, will definitely try it out for any potbless if there's any. I'm feeling hungry now by looking at the picture. I've tried fried instant assam laksa before but not so elaborate ingredients being used. You a food minister. Hahaha... MG

Agnes said...

A very creative dish!!!

Flavours was one of my favourite food magazine :D

Jasmine said...

Hi Terri,
That looks so yummy! Do you upload your photos to the Serious Eats website, so that more people can drool over their keyboard? :)

http://photograzing.seriouseats.com/

terri@adailyobsession said...

plainjane: yes! i've asked vendors at donggongon tamu, kepayan ridge & lido but they all couldn't get me one. u hav the plant?!

sl:it's not the amt of water. a hand held mixer just would not do the job. in fact, the mixer shd be a goner after kneading 1/2 kg flour for more than 10 minutes! u need a heavy duty mixer or a pair of very strong hands. i made some last week n they were still soft the next morning n i didn't need to toast them.

r: anything u want!

johnathan:thnx:D, taken by my girl with her d90. so much diffrence eh.

j2kfm: ah so, it is a well known dish in kl?thnx for telling me:)

ll: u r welcome. thnx for the compliment; ur photos rock!

mg: instant fried assam laksa--what brand? tt's new to me, great idea!

agnes: yes, great mag but some baking recipes don't turn out well...

jasmine: i hav thought of tt, but too lazy to bother...besides photograzing n tastespotting, r there anymore good food photo sharing sites? i need to bring my readership up, no more thrill now tt it's stalled...

Johnathan Oh said...

Ah~ no wonder! How I wish I have a D90 now :(. Beautiful!

triShie said...

i think i don't mention this enough..but, i LOVE ur food pics!

zurin said...

mmmm looks n sounds good! i'll have to try this when M nt being lazy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you. I should give the ladies a call soon.
R

terri@adailyobsession said...

johnathan: i think the price has gone down bc the 5000d is out

trishie: thanx, n i love ALL ur pics! i need some photopraphy lessons frm u

zurin: i know d feeling...

r: n tt'll take years.

Plain Jane said...

Mom has them..I got a 'baby' one to plant at our new place (did i tell u we got our own place already..yay!). I will ask mom for another 'baby' plant just for you..

mott said...

These are such beautiful pictures.. I can only imagine the taste! A.L is one of my fav. dishes and I miss it so much.

I wish.. I could grow bunga kantan here. The ones sold here look so flat and dull. Sigh..

But..thanks for all the drool! I mean, pictures!

terri@adailyobsession said...

plain jane: thnx, i appreciate it!

mott: :(

thenomadGourmand said...

ahhh!! so this is the recipe Lyrical Lemongrass was raving abt! ;)
yes, we hv a stall here in KL, SS14 Subang tht sells this dish but i hv not tried it!
anyhow, this looks replicate-ble at home!
thanks, i'm frm Pg, would luv to try assam laksa w a twst. didja say little oil? Its a hit w me alrei! ;p

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