Tuesday, June 24, 2008

ChanHong Penang Asam Laksa Noodle Instant Sauce and Ayam Brand Sardines

Penang Asam Laksa 1

One of the items I requested and the first paste that I tried from the box of goodies I received from Asian Supermarket 365 was asam laksa, a Malaysian hot and sour fish noodle dish. Obviously, if you're the so-very-talented Bee of Rasa Malaysia you would make Penang assam laksa by scratch. :P But, even Lily's Wai Sek Hong used a mix when she's not in Malaysia. So that's good enough for me.

This is more a lesson in how to doctor up a packaged mix and still have a tasty meal. The package of ChanHong brand Perencah Segera Asam Laksa Pinang (Penang Asam Laksa Noodle Instant Sauce) sells at Asian Supermarket 365 for $1.99. The ingredients listed were shallots, vegetable oil, water, lemongrass, chili, galangal, garlic, sugar, salt, asam jawa (tamarind), spices, and preservatives. They also sent me a can of Ayam Brand sardines in tomato sauce, which sells for $2.99.

Penang Asam Laksa 2

I've eaten curry laksa before, but not asam laksa, so I referred to Rasa Malaysia's recipe to see what side herbs I should add. I made a nice platter of sliced lettuce, pineapples cut into strips, rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) which Malaysians call daun kesom or daun laksa, and mint. Cucumbers would have been nice too but I didn't have any on hand.

Penang Asam Laksa 3

The package makes three bowls of noodles, so I filled half my stock pot with water and added the whole mix along with the can of sardines. While I was waiting for the water to boil, my kitchen was filled with the loveliest lemongrass and tamarind fragrance. Before I even tasted the soup, just based on the smell alone, my mouth watered.

You should also set another pot of water to boil the noodles too. I used round rice vermicelli noodles. I prefer Three Ladies Brand Jiangxi bun giang tay.

When the water boiled, I scooped out the sardines. And here's where it got a little messy, with your hands, separate the sardines so you can remove the center bones. Then tear the fish into small pieces. Don't worry, the sardines were really tender. Then add the fish back into the pot.

Penang Asam Laksa 4

Spoon the broth and fish over a bowl of noodles, add lettuce, pineapples, mint, and rau ram. I added a dollop of chili sauce to amp up the spice. Tell me that doesn't look homemade?

Penang Asam Laksa 5

This was seriously good stuff. Slightly sour from the tamarind and fragrant from the lemongrass. After trying this, I want to try making asam laksa from scratch. But for a quick meal that still tastes very good, I'd recommend this particular mix.

Please refer back to my Terrible Twos post to see other items I've tried.

The folks at Asian Supermarket 365 have nicely offered a 3% discount to Wandering Chopsticks readers, just enter code "WC30708M" at checkout. Expiration date is August 31, 2008. If the discount is popular with my readers, they said they might extend the expiration date.

Update May 27, 2010: It took nearly two years, but I finally made Penang asam laksa from scratch.

1 year ago today, Vietnamese wedding preparations and ceremony.


  1. I am a food snob from Penang, Malaysia so I will say that you HAVE to try making Assam Laksa from scratch. It's just not the same!

    I tried one of these instant package before but it didn't satisfy me because again, I am a perfectionist and a food snob. LOL!

    Also, I thought canned sardines make the soup rather fishy. Next time I make a pot, I will call you over to my house! ;)

  2. This noodle dish sounds yummy and intriguing - the combination of tamarind, chili and lemongrass must be delicious! Since I do not have this packet of Assam Laksa here, I might try to make it from scratch - from your description of ingredients, of course!
    - Ning, Heart and Hearth

  3. Bee,
    Well, of course, you'd be a food snob about Malaysian food. As for other stuff, ha! I know you use mixes too. I actually like canned sardines so it wasn't too fishy to me, but I'd never turn down a dinner invite from you. :)

    Have you used your $10 voucher yet? If not, just order this mix and try it yourself.

  4. I have no trouble with recipes that are quick and good - bring the mixes on! Few of us have hours to experiment in the kitchen - thanks for sharing your recipe.

  5. Nikki,
    I'm no food snob. Mixes for quick dinners, homemade for when I have time.

  6. I noticed in Rasa Malaysia's recipe, she used belacan as a condiment. Do you think mam tom would be a sufficient substitute?

  7. HuongStar,
    I've subbed mam ruoc for belacan plenty of times in other recipes with no problems.

  8. Hi

    I used to make Asam Laksa from scratch but it is too much hassle when most of my friends here don't enjoy them. I tried this paste, what I do is, I buy the cheapest fresh fish and use it to make the base stock. once the fish is cook where you can take off the flesh then you can deboned the fish and boil the soup with fish flesh for at least another hour. but i find it is nicer if you can boil for at least 3 hours.

    i also cook the stock with lots of finely chop/blend onion and vietnamese mint leaves. if you like it sour and spicy like i do, i boil the soup with chillies and "tamarind skin" or tamarind juice at the sametime.

    when the soup is ready, after about 2 hours (minimum) then I will add prawn paste in. I will pour all the sauce from sardine into the stock too but reserve the whole sardine to be served on table.

  9. Lee San,
    Lots of great tips! Actually, since trying this package, I've made asam laksa from scratch. :) It's not hard and was so yummy. Haven't gone back to a mix since.


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