In light of the shelter-in-place order, many of us have resorted to cooking at home, revisiting old recipes and getting creative with our pantries. Instead of our usual Flavors Worth Finding column with recommendations from restaurants, KQED staffers are sharing the meals they’ve been making at home to find some comfort and grounding during uncertain times.
For me, Laksa symbolizes both childhood and adventure. Every summer growing up, my family and I would go to this one particular vendor in Port Dickson, Malaysia to order curry laksa in the dead of summer. Sweating from the 100-degree heat and the complex broth made from prawn heads, lemongrass, coriander, turmeric and other spices, we’d sit in the semi-outdoor cantina with a fan slowly whirring overhead and slurp up rice noodles and fish cakes until we reached the bottom of our bowls.
I’ve never been able to find a restaurant version in the Bay Area that tasted as good as that one food stall in Malaysia. I’ve always been afraid to make it. What if I don’t get the right flavor? What if I put in all of this effort and end up defeated? It always felt too difficult and time-consuming. But now, there’s time. Curry laksa, or laksa lemak, is all about patience and slowing down. The process is as layered as its flavor. It all starts with the paste made from pungent dried shrimp, red chiles, turmeric, garlic, coriander roots and seeds, shimp paste, ginger, galangal and dried red chiles and other spices. Then, there’s the stock, made from frying shrimp heads and shells that are later strained out. It’s a series of stir, simmer, add, repeat until you finally pour in coconut cream and top your bowl with noodles, a soft-boiled egg, sambal oelek and a squeeze of lime. This soup is comfort. It’s memories. It’s joy. And now, it’s something I can proudly make at home.—Urmila Ramakrishnan, KQED Food Editor and Social Strategist
Fancy Brunch for One
I’m sheltering in place alone at my apartment, so getting creative with food has been a way to break up the monotony. The other day I thought to myself, I should surprise myself tomorrow by making eggs for breakfast instead of oatmeal. Then the realization hit me that I can’t actually surprise myself because I’m me. Duh. So that’s been my level of boredom.