Friday, November 11, 2011

In the beginning . . . there was a fire extinguisher

"Is there anything in this house that is not microwavable?" Jun looked across my kitchen bar area at me with an almost pitying look.

"The cereal isn't microwavable and in that drawer you will find a vast assortment of take-out menus," I replied rather sheepishly.

We had only been dating for a few months and during that time I had yet to make anything that vaguely resembled a meal. Sure I had picked up take-out and maybe if I was feeling especially "Suzie Homemaker" I would crack open a can of soup, I might even pick up some salad mix and toss in a few croutons!

He sighed. "Well I guess we can just go get something to eat."

Thus began my operation "Impress the man in your life by cooking for him!"

After much thought and careful planning I decided to go with some Pork Gyoza and Ramen. Now before you go rolling your eyes about the Ramen thing, hear me out.

I know that in most American social circles Ramen is considered the lowest of the low. It's the stuff they serve in prison, the stuff that is stereotypically found in dorm rooms wedged between hot plates and empty beer bottles. This is not Haute Cuisine.

In Japan it's different. Ramen takes YEARS to perfect. It's a time honored skill that is passed down one steaming bowlful at a time. The stock has to be just right. A perfect mingling of meat and vegetable simmered down in golden perfection. The noodles have to be made with only the finest flour, the best water, and lovingly kneaded, rolled paper thing, and then sliced by hand. This is a BIG deal. I know that now, but I didn't know that then.

So since my husband is Japanese I wanted to impress him by making the instant stuff! Surely it was the same, right? Uh yeah . . .

Then there was the Gyoza which in American vernacular we call "pot stickers". No problem! They have bags of the frozen stuff at the Asian market! I'll just get some of those!

Now that I had all my ingredients I quickly brought them home before good sense would over take my love-sick brain. I figured I'd start with the Gyoza first.

"Hmmmm . . . it says to first heat up a pan with a bit of oil to cook these things." I quickly set about to 1. find a pan and then 2. figure out how to use the heating elements on my stove. Scanning the stove top I saw the deceptively simple dials that were numbered 1 to 10. Not wanting to waste anytime I quickly placed the pan with a generous helping of vegetable oil in the bottom and cranked that puppy up to 10.

Meanwhile I had assured my beau that all was well in the kitchen and he should watch TV in the living room while I attempted to be June Cleaver in the kitchen. Albeit with no pearls and in a kitchen that was so starkly decorated it would make a military kitchen seem warm and inviting.

Staring at the pan I knew that putting the frozen dumplings in the pan with cold oil would not be good so I just waited about 5 or more minutes for the oil to heat up, and heat up it did! All of a sudden the oil started smoking. I figured now would be the best time to put the dumplings in. The effect was almost instantaneous. As soon as the cold, ice-encrusted dumplings hit that hot, hot oil, flames erupted from the pan. Not just a little flambe', no we're talking Mt. Vesuvius fire shooting up toward the ceiling. Quite frankly I'm surprised my eyebrows are still intact.

Jun comes rushing into the kitchen after hearing a few well screamed expletives followed by frantic rustling under the cabinets for the fire extinguisher. I find the fire extinguisher, grab it, and rip the plastic guard off with ninja-like speed.

Let's pause here for a moment. I have been with my husband for almost 12 years. In that time I have NEVER seen his eyes get so big with fear as I did on that evening. Fear and a mixture of honest to goodness horror.

"Noooooo!" he screams. I interepret his "No!" as a "No! this can't be happening, quick do something!"

And do something I did!

I sprayed the entire stove with that thing. Sure the fire went out but the room was quickly enveloped in this white dense foamy, powdery stuff. It's Christmas in June!

"Why did you do that?!!", he says as a thick air of acrid, white powder hangs in the air. "What do you mean? I was SAVING us from certain doom and peril!" I retort with a look that says "Duh!"

"All you had to do was put a lid over the pan!" he fires back like a man talking to a deaf person.

"Oh", I reply. "Well you wanna go get some Chinese?"

He heaves a sigh, comes across the kitchen and gives me a hug. "Yeah, let's go get Chinese, but maybe next time you should try something a little less ambitious, like frozen pizza?"

It's been a long time since that incident and my cooking has gotten markedly better, it's even edible! The only time Jun cringes when I'm in the kitchen now is when I'm using a knife but that's a story for another time . . .


  1. Really enjoying your blog! I think you have more great stories coming ... hmmm. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

  2. So funny! I love this story- what is it about love that makes us do such crazy things!!!