The perfect dinner for two

I bought a stainless steel kitchen prep table in 2016 because I read once that you can throw hot pots and pans on it. This tall and stu...


I bought a stainless steel kitchen prep table in 2016 because I read once that you can throw hot pots and pans on it. This tall and sturdy table has since become a center of gravity for me. I do everything from reading the newspaper with my coffee in the morning to developing recipes for work during the day. In the evening, I clear it for dinner. This is where I chop onions, whip salad dressings, and knead the dough for fresh milk bread on weekends. I only have two stools, one for each side of the table, and I like it. This is where my partner and I sit for our meals.

I could buy more stools, but over the years I’ve found that I prefer one-on-one dinners over large gatherings or solo meals. It’s not that I don’t like a good dinner. I’m at my best the moment I take a perfect roast chicken out of the oven, and little makes me happier than sending my friends home. And when I’m alone, food can be a transcendent way to make me happy. A funky piece of Taleggio cheese or a slice of black cod lined with caramel will cling to my mind until I’ve eaten massive amounts of it or written it out of my system in a recipe.

But when I cook for my boyfriend, the pleasures are different. I get out of my head and go into guardian mode, considering things beyond simple flavor: the comfort, nutrition, well-being of this other human. Will he like? Will that keep it full? There’s also that unprecedented calm when we’re just the two of us having a meal and the day begins to darken. The food is on the table, but it’s not an occasion: it’s just dinner. We can chat and catch up on the gossip. This hum of the ordinary takes root and reminds me that I am alive. And when he lapped up what I cooked, leaving only crumbs on the plate? There is no better feeling.

I tend to remember a goldfish, which is why I like to take pictures of the dinners I prepare for us before we dive into them. Later, as I flip through the photos on my phone, I review these meals as if they were songs from a playlist from our relationship: the kimchi and mayo sandwiches I packed for. our first date in the park, kimchi juice dripping from her arms. The invigorating juk I made for us one morning, sprinkled with furikake, Egg yolks and baked puffy cherry tomatoes, juicy with promise. The giant green salad we shared for lunch between business meetings, topped with thinly sliced ​​watermelon radish. The Pavlova we did a day after a whole afternoon in brooklyn looking for rhubarb. The flamboyant shrimp stew that lit up our senses before a night of dancing in the street like children.

I remember the first time I made this shrimp stew: it was still bubbling in its pot when I transferred it from the stove to the table. It’s a good table, but it’s also a good stew. A kind of cousin of bouillabaisse, cioppino and maeuntang, it comfortably nourishes two, with a spicy and aromatic broth tinged with red gochugaru, a powder of Korean red pepper. Bitter greens and sweet radishes add vegetable weight as well as complexity to the broth, which you should absolutely swallow with bread or rice. You can use giant prawns or prawns; Just make sure to put them with their shells (and ideally the heads too), as they are essential for flavoring this simple dish.

Heads are optional as I don’t know who you’re cooking for. But I highly recommend using shellfish in the face, if you can find them, and if your dinner party is someone you’re intimate with. That’s because it’s an intimate stew, the kind you’ll want to eat with someone you’re close with, because sucking the flavor out of your head is the nicest part of what’s already there. a very pleasant experience. You can take my boyfriend at his word. When he took a bite of that first shrimp head, he leaned over the table and said, “This is what makes life worth living. “

Recipe: Shrimp Stew for Two

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