Prawn adobo and sinigang over jasmine rice
Sometimes, I’m truly taken aback by how spoiled we Americans are when it comes to our homes. I’m specifically thinking about our kitchens here. My kitchen is small by American standards (although large by NYC standards) – four burner gas stove with oven, full-sized refrigerator, large sink and just enough space for a table and chairs. Almost all Americans have a kitchen with a 4-burner stove and an oven. Some of us have six burners and two ovens. We’re hardly accustomed to eating without electricity or municipal gas lines for hours or even days.
Ginormous prawns fresh from the market
We had a bit of a scare this past weekend, with hurricane/ tropical storm Irene heading towards New York. The Kensington Kitchen was not included in any of the evacuation zones, but we decided to high-tail it up to Beacon, NY (70+ north of the city) to weather the storm. Even in Beacon, we prepped for the storm with plenty of water and food, flashlights and candles.
Garlic and shallot smell wonderful while sautéing, but not so wonderful a few hours later - one benefit of the "Dirty Kitchen" set-up
All the while, I couldn’t help but compare our frantic prep work with the laid-back attitudes towards “brown outs” displayed by my Philippine family.
Where the browner half of my family resides *no one* has an oven or four burner electric or natural gas stove. Instead, one or two burner propane stoves are used in an outdoor cooking area or “dirty kitchen.” Electrical outages are commonplace. I saw two in the time I was there – one lasting almost three days. Thanks to the brilliance of the “dirty kitchen” set-up, though, we were still able to cook.
Adding the liquid ingredients after the prawns start to cook
In honor of hurricane Irene and those on the Eastern Seaboard who may be limited a propane camping stove this week, I’m posting a Filipino recipe that is intended for such a minimalist cooking set-up – adobo.
The adobo sauce reduces to a thick glaze over the prawns
Adobo is the national dish of the Philippines. Everyone’s mama makes it differently and everyone’s mama is right. It’s tangy and salty – perfect comfort food for a night hunkering down for a hurricane or typhoon. It can be made completely from pantry items – garlic, onions, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar – and any meat you might have on-hand. Best of all, because it requires only a single burner and a short cooking time, it can be made in the middle of a power outage.
Make a pot while you wait out the outages Irene left behind and contemplate the advantages of a ”Dirty Kitchen.”