Penang laksa and travels abroad

View from the Shangri La, Rasa Sayang in Penang.

Oh the memories! Occasionally I revisit our travel photos and inevitably recall great food memories. One of these trips being Penang, Malaysia and the incredible discovery of the Penang Laksa.


It’s a rich spicy broth, punctuated by those great Asian sweet’n’sour flavours. One of the most distinct ingredients they use for the garnish is the ginger flower

Sadly, though I’m in Australia and its warm at the moment, these lovelies are hard to come by. Infact we are growing our own ginger plant at home in the hopes that one day these beautiful buds will appear, (admittedly it needs a little more TLC though.)

I’ve re-jigged this recipe for my palate (so it’s very nearly authentic.) I’ve skipped the pineapple because (unfortunately my other half prefers without, by all means add a little chopped tinned pineapple and relish in the unique flavours)

And in honour of some new friends I’ve made, this recipe is also gluten free and vegan!!!

This a Gluten free, Vegan recipe. You can option to add some Seafood, which is traditional or fish sauce/shrimp paste, if you’d like as well, totally up to you!
Time: 30-40 mins prep for all the chopping/mise en place. You can use a food processor to speed it up if you like. Once all the condiments are ready it’ll take next to no time to assemble, the broth will take 10 mins max. **If you decide to serve a protein allow time for the fish, shellfish or chicken etc**

Chopped herbs, mint, coriander & basil work well
Hot chillies to taste
Bean sprouts
1 x Lemon chopped into wedges,
Carrot, shredded or chopped (apologies I couldn’t be bothered with precision cuts-hungry!!!)
Cucumber strips
3 x Kaffir lime leaves,shredded
1 x Spanish onion finely chopped or (use the food processor) half for the stock & half for garnish
1 x Ginger root, grated
2 Tbsp Tamarind Paste
1/2 cup Salted peanuts, crushed
1 Star Anise bud
Rice noodles to serve (pre soak in hot water for a few minutes and drain)
2 Tbsp Cornflour
2 Tbsp Raw sugar (I actually forget to get the Asian palm sugar, but hey substitution is the key)
Red vinegar
Soy (use tamari for gluten free version)
Pinch of salt
Few drops of sesame oil
Peanut oil for the sauté
Freshly boiled water from the kettle


First step is to get all the condiments ready for the Laksa: crushed peanuts, mince the onion, veg and herbs chopped.

I like to remove the stem from my Kaffir lime leaves before I shred them too,

In a large pot add the sugar, tamarind, ginger, star anise and half the minced onion. The sesame oil and peanut oil can go in too.
Sauté the mixture, get some colour into the mix and let the fragrance develop.
Measure out approx 2 Tbsp each of red vinegar, soy sauce (or tamari-gluten free soy)

**option to add some fish sauce and shrimp paste if you would like at this stage**

Add to the pot and saute. The Laksa paste should be coming along nicely, add half a juiced lemon, (more if you prefer a sharper taste.)

ladle in a 1/2 litre of boiled water. Check the seasonings, If its too tart you can add more sugar, or tamarind if you prefer more sour, (adjust according to taste)

Mix the cornflour with cold water to a runny paste and pour into the broth to thicken, simmer for a few more minutes.

Measure out the rice noodles, (which should be presoaked and drained)

Next add some broth to cover the noodles,

Garnish time, I like to start with the raw carrot and cucumber batons. A good tablespoon or so of the reserved minced onion, Shredded mint & basil. Bean shoots, (yum!)

Lastly, some Chillies and kaffir lime leaves, Coriander and lastly the Crushed peanuts.

Ready to devour!


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  1. Laura says

    How awesome! Thank you for the gluten-free vegan recipe! It looks fantastic. I am definitely giving this one a try. :)

    • says

      Thanks Lorna :) I couldn’t remember if you ate spicy food or not? I know you’re a pescetarian so I figure this vegan recipe works really well with fish too. At least (that’s how they serve it) in Penang. That holiday was a few years ago now, but a friend of mine requested a hot ‘n’ sour type Asian soup, I hope this fits the bill!!!

      • says

        I’m impressed that you know I’m a fish eating veggie! I would probably prefer it without fish, and I do like spicy things as long as you can actually taste something rather than just having your mouth burnt off. I’m sure your soup will fit the bill, it certainly looks very good.

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