1whole white fish (about 1.5kg) such as bream, flathead, snapper or bream, gutted, scaled, cleaned
3-4 sprigsVietnamese mint
150 gmtamarind pulp, soaked in 250ml warm water for 30 minutes, strained through a fine sieve (solids discarded)
3 slicesasam gelugor (optional; see note)
1 tbspwhite sugar, or to taste
400 gmdried laksa rice noodles, soaked in water until soft, drained
½pineapple, thinly sliced
2Lebanese cucumbers, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1onion, thinly sliced
5iceberg lettuce leaves, thinly sliced
1 cup(loosely packed) mint
¾ cup(loosely packed) Vietnamese mint
1torch ginger flower, thinly sliced (optional; see note)
2-3small red chillies, thinly sliced
2 tbsphae ko, diluted in hot water to drizzling consistency (optional; see note)
35 gmfresh turmeric or 1 tsp ground turmeric
20 gmgalangal, coarsely chopped
5golden shallots, thinly sliced
4small dried red chillies, soaked in hot water and squeezed dry
4small fresh red chillies, chopped
2lemongrass stalks, white part only, sliced
1 tspbelacan (see note)
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).
Meanwhile, for spice paste, pound ingredients in a mortar and pestle or process in a food processor to a fine paste, set aside.
Remove fish from stock, cool slightly, coarsely flake (discard skin and bones) and set aside.
Strain fish stock into a clean saucepan.
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).
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.