This soup has a lot of variations. It seems as if different households in Penang have their own recipe for it. Some like their Bokok Fish Soup sweet, others with tons of chilli. In our house, we like the soup simple; just the fish in assam soup. It's quite similar to the Assam Laksa soup but stripped down to only 5 main ingredients. It's great served hot with rice.
A word of caution: do not serve the soup in plastic bowls. The turmeric in the soup will leave a stain.
- 2 slices of belacan (unroasted) (1.5-inch square, about 1/2 inch thick)
- 450g tamarind pulp
- 550g Bokok fish or kembung fish, cleaned and gutted
- 1 bundle lemongrass (about 3-4 stalks, use the inner white bulbs only) (smashed)
- 3 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Chili powder or red chillies to taste (optional)
1) Break up the belacan and add into the pot, together with 2 cups of water.
2) In a bowl, add 1 cup of water to the tamarind pulp. Squeeze tamarind in the water and pour the tamarind juice into a large pot of water. Keep repeating until the water is clear; about 7-8 times.
3) Add fish.
4) Add lemongrass and turmeric powder. Stir.
5) Bring to boil. Then simmer for at least an hour.
6) Add salt and chili powder to taste.