The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 28th December, 2016 for your chance to win a share of $50,000!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Mango recipes

Nothing says summer like mangoes. Go beyond the criss-cross cuts - bake a mango-filled meringue loaf with lime mascarpone, start off the day with a sweet coconut quinoa pudding with sticky mango, or toss it through a spicy warm weather Thai salad.

Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

Shark Bay Wild Scampi Caviar

Bright blue scampi roe is popping up on menus across Australia. Here's why it's so special.

Dark chocolate delice, salted-caramel ganache and chocolate sorbet

"The delice from Source Dining is a winner. May I have the recipe?" Rebecca Ward, Fitzroy, Vic REQUEST A RECIPE To request a recipe, email fareexchange@bauer-media.com.au or send us a message via Facebook. Please include the restaurant's name and address, as well as your name and address. Please note that because of the volume of requests we receive, we can only publish a selection in the magazine.

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

What the GT team is cooking on Christmas Day

We don't do things by halves in the Gourmet office. These are the recipes we'll be cooking on the big day.

Paul Carmichael's great cake

"Great cake, also known in Barbados as black cake or rum cake, is a variation of British Christmas cake that's smashed with rum and falernum syrup," says Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael. "This festive cake varies from household to household but they all have two things in common: tons of dried fruit and rum. It's a cake that should be started at least a month out so the fruit can marinate in the booze. Start this recipe up to five weeks ahead to macerate the fruit and baste the cake."

Sydney's best dishes 2016

For our 50th anniversary issue in 2016, we scoured Australia asking two questions: What dishes are making waves right now? What flavours will take us into the next half-century? Sydney provided 16 answers.

Penang asam laksa


This happy marriage of rice noodles and spiced broth is perfect for summer, writes Tony Tan.

You'll need

1 whole white fish (about 1.5kg) such as bream, flathead, snapper or bream, gutted, scaled, cleaned 3-4 sprigs Vietnamese mint 3-4 slices galangal 150 gm tamarind pulp, soaked in 250ml warm water for 30 minutes, strained through a fine sieve (solids discarded) 3 slices asam gelugor (optional; see note) 1 tbsp white sugar, or to taste 400 gm dried laksa rice noodles, soaked in water until soft, drained ½ pineapple, thinly sliced 2 Lebanese cucumbers, seeds removed, thinly sliced 1 onion, thinly sliced 5 iceberg lettuce leaves, thinly sliced 1 cup (loosely packed) mint ¾ cup (loosely packed) Vietnamese mint 1 torch ginger flower, thinly sliced (optional; see note) 2-3 small red chillies, thinly sliced 2 tbsp hae ko, diluted in hot water to drizzling consistency (optional; see note)   Spice paste 35 gm fresh turmeric or 1 tsp ground turmeric 20 gm galangal, coarsely chopped 5 golden shallots, thinly sliced 4 small dried red chillies, soaked in hot water and squeezed dry 4 small fresh red chillies, chopped 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, sliced 1 tsp belacan (see note)

Method

  • 01
  • Combine fish, Vietnamese mint, galangal and 2.4 litres cold water, or enough to cover fish, in a large saucepan and bring to the simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until fish is cooked through (25-30 minutes).
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for spice paste, pound ingredients in a mortar and pestle or process in a food processor to a fine paste, set aside.
  • 03
  • Remove fish from stock, cool slightly, coarsely flake (discard skin and bones) and set aside.
  • 04
  • Strain fish stock into a clean saucepan.
  • 05
  • Add spice paste, tamarind liquid and asam gelugor to stock, season to taste with sugar and salt, simmer until well flavoured (20-30 minutes), check seasoning and add some flaked fish (optional).
  • 06
  • Meanwhile, blanch noodles in a large saucepan of boiling water until just tender (2-3 minutes), drain, divide among serving bowls. Top with remaining fish, ladle hot stock over, top with pineapple, cucumber, onion, lettuce, mint, torch ginger flower, chilli and hae ko, and serve with extra garnishes on the side.

Note Asam gelugor (a tropical fruit), torch ginger flowers, hae ko (shrimp sauce) and belacan are available from Asian grocers.


If there is one Malaysian dish that beats rendang and curry laksa, it is asam laksa. A rice noodle soup flavoured with a heady fish broth made from tamarind, galangal, lemongrass, turmeric and ground chillies, topped with flaked fish, tropical herbs, tangy pineapple and crunchy cucumber, asam laksa has won the hearts and palates of Malaysians and visitors alike.

I suspect it is not as well known here in Australia.

Asam (also spelt assam) is the Malay word for tamarind, which is the main souring agent in the soup. Dried pieces of asam gelugor, a tropical Malaysian fruit also known as asam keping in Malay (and confusingly called tamarind skin in English), are also often added to enhance the tangy flavour. These key ingredients complement the strong-tasting fish: wolf herring and chub mackerel are favoured for the soup in Malaysia.

Another key ingredient is torch ginger flower (known to Japanese cooks as myoga), which is sold frozen in many Asian grocers, although I've seen it growing in the Northern Territory and Queensland. I've successfully served the dish, however, even to Malaysian friends, without it.

For asam laksa to be really authentic, hae ko (as it is known in Hokkien, or petis udang in Bahasa Malaysia) is added to the recipe. Made from shrimp, this pungent, molasses-like shrimp sauce, diluted with a little warm water, lends extra kick.

According to Alice Yong, one of Malaysia's top food writers, asam laksa should be served with laksa noodles - thick and springy noodles made from rice, sago and tapioca flours. But I think thin rice noodles are also acceptable. Yong also says there are several versions of asam laksa in Malaysia; most notable are those from the states of Kedah, Perlis and Perak, but the Penang version is by far the most popular. Sometimes also called Nonya asam laksa, Penang laksa is not particularly difficult to make but requires some perseverance.

The secret to making a great asam laksa is super-fresh fish; it needs to be gutted, scaled and cleaned, although I reserve the heads for added flavour. Put your chosen fish - my favourites are snapper, blue-eye trevalla, bream and flathead - into a stockpot of cold water along with large sprigs of Vietnamese mint and sliced galangal, and simmer until the fish is cooked through. Once it's done, remove the fish from the stock with a slotted spoon and set it aside to cool before flaking the flesh into large pieces, then strain the stock into a clean saucepan.

While the fish is simmering, pound the spice paste ingredients in a mortar and pestle or pulse them in a blender to a fine paste. Purists may insist on the mortar and pestle method, but I find that a blender or food processor makes light work of what can be a time-consuming task. If you go with the mortar and pestle, use a large, heavy-duty one and make the paste in batches. This is then added to the strained fish stock along with the tamarind liquid, with sugar and salt to taste. Simmer this mixture gently for about 30 minutes, letting the sweet, sour and spicy flavours develop and blend into a harmonious broth. At this stage, you may like to return some of the flaked fish to the broth for added complexity.

By now, you should have soaked your choice of rice noodles - one of my favourites is Twenty-Twenty Penang brand laksa rice noodles, sold in many Asian supermarkets. This is also the time to prepare your garnish - pick bunches of Vietnamese mint and common mint, slice onion and chillies, chop chunks of pineapple, and shred cucumber and torch ginger flower.

Lastly, dunk your noodles into a saucepan of boiling water, then drain them and divide them among serving bowls. Scatter the flaked fish over the noodles, add the broth and top with a selection of garnishes.


At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
The GT x STILY
Christmas Boutique is now open

The smallgoods, homewares, art and more from the pages of GT are now all under one roof, ready to take their place under the tree.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Featured in

Feb 2012

You might also like...

Beef cheek recipes

recipes

Pave de boeuf with Roquefort sauce and gratin dauphinoise

A culinary Tour de France

recipes

Pan-fried John Dory agrodolce with endive and goat’s cheese

Saltimbocca alla Romana

recipes

Piccata di vitello

Adana kofte

recipes

Roast lamb loin with couscous and pumpkin

Pork chops with fennel

recipes

conversion tool

 
get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×