Sunday, October 21, 2012

There is a Crocodile in My Freezer and Other Kitchen Adventures

It was the closest thing that looked like a crockpot.

My roommate had said we had a crockpot in the cupboard.

I didn’t see any other options in the cupboard.

It must be the crockpot. I threw in all the chili ingredients, flicked it on, and left for my day. What a perfect way to have dinner ready for the group of friends coming that evening!

It wasn’t the crockpot.

In fact, it was a humungous… rice cooker! That’s right. Thanks to our close proximity to rice eating nations, rice cookers in this part of the world are gianormous, and I had attempted to cook chili in our rice cooker. It started to dawn on me when, upon returning to the house, I found the chili cooking much slower than I had expected…
Rice cooker (left) and crockpot (right). They look alike, don't they?

But (cue heroic music), my pressure cooker saved the day! Faster than it takes to peel a pot of sweet potatoes (kaukau in the local trade language, Tok Pisin), it cooked my rice (since I now couldn’t use the rice cooker), finished up my chili and the potential entertaining disaster was averted! Let’s hear a shout out for pressure cookers!  (And, in case you are wondering, I did eventually find the true crockpot, and it has become an invaluable kitchen device.)

Hooray for pressure cookers!!
Yes, I’m proud to say that my pressure cooker = my friend. Why? Because, when I live at such a high altitude (5000+ ft), the boiling point is lower… but things take longer to cook. Combine that with needing to cook all my meals (and half the ingredients) from scratch and life taking longer in general, I’m very happy for this device that saves both time and dishes.

And, perhaps most spectacularly, it can cook pukpuk.

What’s pukpuk? A hapless guest asked that same question several months ago as he sat in our living room and cradled in his lap the bowl of sweet and sour deliciousness poured over his rice. “It’s delicious!”

“It’s crocodile,” I informed him.

Pukpuk: like this crocodile I encountered at the zoo in Australia.
The fork stopped halfway to his mouth as he stared at me. “It’s much cheaper than any other meat we can get here,” I explained, “and if we either cook it in the crockpot or the pressure cooker, it doesn’t end up so tough.”

He took another bite, chewing a bit more cautiously this time. “Well, it’s still delicious!”

And that’s why I like pressure cookers

… because how else are you going to cook crocodile?