I purchased a stainless-steel kitchen prep desk in 2016 as a result of I as soon as learn that you can throw sizzling pots and pans instantly on it. This tall, sturdy desk has since grow to be a middle of gravity for me. I do every part on it, from studying the paper with my espresso within the morning to growing recipes for work in the course of the day. At night time, I clear it for dinner. It’s the place I chop onions, whisk vinaigrettes and knead dough for fresh-baked milk bread on the weekend. I’ve solely two stools, one for either side of the desk, and I prefer it that manner. It’s the place my accomplice and I sit for our meals.
I might purchase extra stools, however through the years I’ve discovered that I favor one-on-one dinners to bigger gatherings or solo meals. It’s not that I don’t love ceremonial dinner. I’m at my strongest the second I pull an ideal roast rooster out of the oven, and little makes me happier than sending my associates dwelling full. And once I’m alone, meals generally is a transcendent method to deal with myself. A cool sliver of Taleggio cheese or a caramel-edged slab of black cod will latch onto my thoughts till I’ve eaten large portions of it or written it out of my system right into a recipe.
However once I’m cooking for my boyfriend, the pleasures are completely different. I get out of my very own head and go into caretaker mode, contemplating issues past simply taste: consolation, diet, this different human’s well-being. Will he prefer it? Will this maintain him full? There’s additionally that unparalleled quiet when it’s simply the 2 of us sharing a meal, and the day begins to dim. Meals is on the desk, however it’s not an event: It’s simply dinner. We are able to chat and make amends for gossip. This hum of the peculiar grounds me and jogs my memory that I’m alive. And when he has lapped up what I’ve cooked, abandoning little greater than crumbs on the plate? There’s no higher feeling.
I are likely to have the reminiscence of a goldfish, which is why I prefer to take photos of the dinners I cook dinner for us earlier than we dive into them. Later, as I flip via the photographs on my cellphone, I expertise these meals once more as in the event that they’re songs in a playlist of our relationship: The kimchi-and-mayo sandwiches I packed for our first date within the park, the kimchi juice dripping down his arms. The life-giving juk I made for us one morning, sprinkled with furikake, egg yolks and oven-blistered cherry tomatoes, juicy with promise. The large inexperienced salad we shared for lunch in between work conferences, bejeweled with thinly sliced watermelon radishes. The pavlova we made someday after a whole afternoon in Brooklyn trying to find rhubarb. The hearth-bright shrimp stew that lit up our senses earlier than an evening of dancing via the road like kids.
I bear in mind the primary time I made that shrimp stew: It was nonetheless burbling in its sizzling pot once I transferred it from the range to the desk. It’s desk, however it’s additionally stew. A type of cousin of bouillabaisse, cioppino and maeuntang, it feeds two comfortably, with a spicy, fragrant broth that’s tinged pink with gochugaru, a Korean red-pepper powder. Bitter greens and candy radishes present vegetal heft in addition to complexity to the broth, which it’s best to undoubtedly sop up with bread or rice. You should utilize jumbo shrimp or prawns; simply be sure you get them with their shells on (and ideally heads on too), as they’re important to flavoring this easy dish.
The heads are elective as a result of I don’t know whom you’re cooking for. However I extremely suggest utilizing head-on crustaceans, if you will discover them, and in case your diner is somebody with whom you might be intimate. That’s as a result of that is an intimate stew, the type you’ll wish to eat with somebody you’re shut with, as sucking the flavour out of the heads is essentially the most pleasurable half of what’s already a really pleasurable expertise. You possibly can take my boyfriend’s phrase for it. When he took a chew out of that first shrimp head, he leaned over the desk and stated, “That is what makes life price dwelling.”
Recipe: Shrimp Stew for Two