Me, being a food based person, tend to associate certain tastes and dishes to various part of my past.
This particular one featured strongly in my childhood, because it was my maternal grandmother’s signature dish. The amazing 萝卜糕 (daikon/white radish cake). I remember going to Kota Kinabalu during school holidays to see the grands, and she’ll be buzzing away in the kitchen cooking up a storm which almost always include this (And she’d have to make a lot of it, since friends and family will mysteriously appear when they catch even a whiff of the possibility of getting their hands on a plate).
After she passed away, my mom and her sisters have tried to recreate the magic. Usually coming close, but never quite there. Still, no arguments from me when I do get to stuff my face with it. 😀
Anyway, I went back to Malaysia for a bit of a holiday this Apr, and mom taught me the condensed and easy
Instead of having to hand grate the daikon to absolute perfection, we just whizzed it around in a blender to approximately the texture we want. Even so, it involves a lot of chopping, and prepping, and frying, and cooling, and washing, and stirring, and steaming.
I have cooked this twice now since then. And has taken me around 4 hours each time.
Not quite there either (and I suspect it will never be) but satisfying all the same, almost like grandma’s hug.