Recipe by Madam Cheah Siew Mooi. Boon Wah Café, 2nd Floor Komtar Complex, 29 Jalan Penang, Penang, Malaysia.

Serves 10

For the soup:
1kg fresh sardine/mackerel/kambong fish*, cleaned and blanched
3 stalks lemongrass, thinly sliced
Bulb of 1 ginger flower, thinly sliced
8 shallots
250g belacan^
2L water
2 tbsp chilli paste
10g tamarind skin^
10g tamarind paste^
150g laksa leaves
1 tbsp salt, to taste
1 tbsp sugar, to taste

1 kg fresh rice noodles, soaked in cold water for 15min and strained

For garnish:
100g prawn paste, mixed well with 50ml hot water
300g Chinese lettuce, cut into thin strips about 2cm long
100g mint leaves
1 red onion, cut into thin strips about 2cm long
1 cucumber, cut into thin strips about 2cm long
4 chilli padi, sliced diagonally
1 pineapple, cut into thin strips about 2cm long

*Available at wet markets.
^Available in the condiments aisle of major supermarkets


For the soup:

  1. Place a large pot of water to the boil. Add the blanched fish and simmer for another 15min, then remove the fish and let it cool on a plate. Debone the fish and roughly break it into small chunks.
  2. Blend the lemongrass, ginger flower, shallots and belacan till smooth. Set another pot with 2L water to the boil. Add the blended paste and the rest of the soup ingredients, except the salt and sugar. Simmer for 30min until fragrant, then take out the laksa leaves.
  3. Add the fish into the pot, bring to the boil, then simmer for 1h. Stir in the salt and sugar, taste, and slowly adjust by half teaspoons if necessary.

To serve:

  1. Blanch the noodles in the hot soup for 15s.
  2. To serve, pour soup over the noodles, a tsp of the prawn paste mixture, and a handful of the remaining garnishes.