Recommended pre-read: the epilogue; Wanshana/2008/08/Laksa-asam-and-friend
My home science teacher (God bless you Cik Kalthum) would not have believed this phenomenon for a micro second I would think. But iye Cikgu, haritu saya masak Laksa Asam!!! (And I hear a thunderous applaud from all those reading this entry - clap! clap! clap! Thank you, thank you.....)
I have never been very good at cooking. Full stop.
As the youngest of six, I was often chased out of the kitchen - I was more of a nuisance than a helping hand whenever I lingered around in that department. My mother and 3 elder sisters would be happier for me to be lounging in front of our (then) black & white TV watching Sesame Street & Popeye The Sailor Man than to be wandering about in 'their' kitchen. So you see.... this notion that I can do no good in the kitchen has long been instilled in my subconscious mind. To further entrench this notion, I was whisked away to a boarding school at the tender age of 12. The school was only 5 'miles' away from home though. But distance did not matter. With no access to a 'live' kitchen (other than the school canteen and dining hall which access were also equally denied to budding female adults) , how can you expect one to bloom into a good cook?
Later when in college, I learned about this concept of "self fulfilling prophecy" in Psychology 101. Simply, the self-fulfilling prophecy is, in the beginning, a statement, a prediction or a false definition, of a certain situation. The person believing this prophecy then evokes certain behaviours or alters his or her actions which makes the original false conception to become 'true'.
So this notion of me being a lousy cook is a self fulfilling prophecy, you think? Yeah... I think so lah! No doubt about it.
Rationalising my incompetency is indeed one of my competencies :)
But it's never too late, right? Better late than never.
So when the Ah So at Pasar Rawang offered me a few packs of laksa at half price (because the customer who ordered for them did not turn up as promised), I thought - hmmm.... this could be a window of opportunity for me to hone my culinary skills. Honestly, at that point, I only thought of boiling the laksa and mix them with Prego spaghetti sauce. A suggestion by Aso though, helped pushed me to a new frontier altogether. She "directed" me to buy asam keping, bunga kantan, daun 'punina' ( trust me, she meant 'daun pudina' or mint leaves, and nothing else), etc, etc, etc. And so I snaked myself through the crowds at the wet market looking for those ingredients.
As fate has it, that same week, I had also been clearing up some boxes of books to "restore" our mini library. The last few books that remained untouchable were a few good but dusty cooking/recipe books. GOOD because they fill up the shelves, DUSTY because they really are..... they have never been put to good use other than for ogling and salivating over the pictures of elaborately garnished dishes. And one of these dust collectors was none other than a special recipe book entitled "Dari Srikandi Untuk Srikandi". I suppose, I am not alone ..... especially amongst those who hailed from the same alma mater.
I flicked through to the mee & pasta section and voila!!! Two pages caught my eyes; on Assam Laksa & Laksa Johor.
Both are my favourites.
Both have never been served home-cooked in my kitchen.
Could this be my next fear factor challenge?!
In times like this, when faced with daunting tasks that could bring tears to my eyes ( because onions would be involved) - who did I call?
WAN SHANA !!!!!!
- to be continued -