Are you a Penang Assam Laksa lover?

Assam Laksa demonstrated by Peggy Lim & Evelyn Tian.

Are you a Penang Assam Laksa lover?

If you are…. I am going to share with you how to whip up a delicious Assam Laksa in under 30 minutes.

First allow me to introduce Penang Assam Laska to you… It is called PENANG Assam Laska; it is because this dish is made popular from Penang, Malaysia, and is ranked at number 7 on world’s 50 Most Delicious Food compiled by CNN Go in 2011.

This dish is primarily made of fish stock, and tastes sour from the assam/tamarind peel. The ingredients used for the soup are primarily lemongrass, chilli, turmeric, garlic, torch ginger, galangal and shallots, which  are the building block of the paste, and you boil the paste with the fish stock. It is served with cooked thick rice noodles and garnished with with mint, pineapple, shallot, shrimp paste and lettuce.

I shared my version of Assam Laksa using (salmon) fish stock and brewed for a few hours with Vietnamese mint, onion and assam. The reason I go for salmon is the fishy taste and the “oiliness” of the fish.

However, today I am going to show you how you can create an authentic Assam Laksa using canned tuna or any canned fish that you desire. I would, however, recommend canned fish in brine rather than water, as you would want the oiliness of the fish for this dish.

Also the paste I use is the Little Nonya Assam Laksa paste.

Why the readymade paste?

  • The paste is from Penang, so its taste is authentic to the flavour of Penang Assam Laksa.
  • In Australia, we can’t get the fresh bunga kantan (torch flower), which is one of the crucial ingredients for Assam Laksa. However, you can find the bunga kantan has already been added to the paste.
  • It saves time using the readymade pastes – you don’t have to purchase the paste ingredients, and blend / prepare from scratch.

OK… so here goes! If you are a Assam Laksa fan, let’s cook our Assam Laksa together.


1 packet of Little Nonya Penang Assam Laksa paste 250g (good for 4 people)
1 can of tuna in brine 425g
1 litre of water, but add more if you prefer the soup to be more watery.
1 large onion, chopped finely.
Vietnamese mint – You can get hold of it from the Chinese shop.
Tamarind peel
Sugar to taste
Tamarind puree (optional) [ or you can use tamarind concentrate]


1 packet of thick rice noodles – you can also use rice noodles.

Penang Assam Laksa

This are the noodles I use.


  1. Bring the water to boil, add the paste, onion, can of fish, tamarind peel and Vietnamese mint. Brew on low heat for about 30 minutes to an hour.
  2. While waiting for the soup to brew, prepare all the garnishing ingredients.
  3. Continue to taste the soup to bring the flavour to your liking. Add tamarind puree if you would like it to be a bit sour, add more canned fish for a more fishy taste, or chilli powder if you would like it a bit spicy.
  4. As for the shrimp paste / hair kor, you will need 1 tsp of shrimp paste and mix it with tsp of hot / warm water. Mix and stir gently. One teaspoon is good for one serve.

Garnishing: * please send me a note if you are not familiar with any of the ingredients mentioned.

  • 1 teaspoon of prawn paste (optional) and 1 teaspoon of hot water. It is optional as some people just don’t like the smell. As for me, it is not Assam Laksa without the shrimp paste.
  • 1/4 pineapple – julienned
  • 2 shallots – slice very thinly
  • 1 handful/bunch of mint leaves (use only the leaves)
  • Half cucumber – julienned
  • 1/2 lettuce – thinly cut
  • 3 calamansi lime (optional) – halved. Use this if you want the Laksa to be more sour.



Vietnamese Mint

Vietnamese Mint

Number of people: 4 (one packet of paste – 250 grams)
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes

Cook’s note on how to prepare Fish stock

  1. If you want to cook a more authentic soup base, I normally purchase salmon fish bones and boil them for 30-60 minutes or until cooked.
  2. Remove the fish from the stock and set aside until cool.
  3. Break off meat from the bones. Double or triple check the flesh/meat to make sure there are no bones left.
  4. Sieve the stock.
  5. Add the paste, Vietnamese mint, onion, assam pieces and fish flake into the stock and boil for 30 minutes.
  6. Add sugar and salt to taste. *The onion is to add sweetness to the stock, so check / taste first before adding sugar.
  7. Adjust the flavour according to your taste bud – if you like more spice, add more chilli or if more pungent – add more shrimp paste.
  8. Enjoy!

I still think Penang Assam Laksa is one of the most healthy dishes and it triggers all our five senses of bitterness, sourness, sweetness, saltiness and umami!

So if you are craving for Assam Laksa right now – get your paste and can of tuna and you can enjoy this amazing dish in under 30 minutes.

>> Paste can be  purchased from MyLongTable.

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