How to make a warming winter laksa

It’s a wintery long weekend so my thoughts are turning to a steaming bowl of Assam laksa.  I learnt to make laksa at Pearly Kee’s Penang home cooking school in Malaysia and a big bowl of it is a sure fire way to transport me straight back to a warm climate.  


Assam laksa is very different to the type of laska you usually get in Australia.  Assam means sour or tamarind so instead of the rich, creamy laksa we are used to a refreshing assam laksa packs a punch of tamarind over fish stock.  It’s also a complete meal with lots of rice noodles, fish and pineapple.  

Making the laksa soup
Making the laksa soup

There’s everything you could want in a bowl of winter broth – a sour tang along with sweetness, spice, heat and acid.

Ready to pour the laksa soup over the top
Ready to pour the laksa soup over the top
Assam Laksa
Serves 4
Authentic Penang Laksa - great to warm you up in winter
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Total Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
765 calories
135 g
114 g
12 g
28 g
2 g
737 g
1263 g
17 g
0 g
9 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 765
Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 2g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 5g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Cholesterol 114mg
Sodium 1263mg
Total Carbohydrates 135g
Dietary Fiber 9g
Sugars 17g
Protein 28g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Spice paste
  1. 3 fresh red chillis
  2. 15gm dried chillis, soak and remove seeds
  3. 5 gm fresh tumeric
  4. 2 stalks lemon grass, sliced
  5. 2 slices ginger
  6. 90gm shallots
  7. 1 clove garlic
  8. 15gm shrimp paste
For soup
  1. 1 litre water
  2. 15gm tamarind purée
  3. 2 pieces of dried tamarind peel
  4. 300gm sardines or mackerel fillets
  5. 20 laksa leaves
  6. 500g rice noodles
  7. 300g pineapple, chopped
  8. 300g cucumber, finely sliced
  9. 100gm onion
  10. 100gm fresh mint
  11. 1 red chilli, sliced
  12. 1 tsp sugar
  13. 1 tsp salt
  1. To make the spice paste add all the ingredients to a blender and pulse until you have a thick, red paste.
  2. Cook the mackerel or sardines in a steamer and cook for 10 minutes or until cooked. Remove and set aside to cool then flake the fish into tiny pieces and remove all the bones.
  3. Pour the water into a large pot. Add the tamarind peel and purée and laksa leaves and bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Cook the noodles in boiling water for 30 seconds and then rinse under cold water.
  5. To serve, put a handful of noodles in each bowl then add the pineapple, cucumber, onion, mint and cooked fish. Ladle the hot laksa soup over the top and season with the sugar and salt to taste.
  6. Top with some sliced chilli.
  1. The best rice noodles to use are lai fun noodles or laksa noodles you can get them at Asian grocery stores.
Gourmet Chick


  1. I LOVE Assam Laksa – there’s a place that does it in Sydney which is where I first tried it. Delish.

  2. I am not skilled enough to make this, but it sounds amazing!

  3. Miss Piggy – Yes so different to the standard laska I think.

    Andi – I’m sure you could!

  4. Should that read tangerine peel, instead of tamarind?

  5. Hi Alicia – no it is tamarind peel. A little bit harder to get your hands on here in Melbourne than in Malaysia.

  6. Dear Cara,

    Your assam laksa looks pretty impressive considering you’ve just learnt cooking it.

    I find adding onion puree to the spice paste gives it more sweetness and body. Lai fun can be difficult to track down at times and deliberately overcooking some spaghetti (as opposed to al dente in Italian recipes) give the pasta very similar texture as lai fun that is barely noticeable.

  7. Ohhhhh great recipe 🙂 thanks for sharing I’m more a curry laksa kind of girl but some night I do crave that sweet and sour taste of an Assam laksa hehe

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