Saturday, February 02, 2008

Cooking With Ammonia

So while I've been on the subject of cooking disasters this week at my other blog on Iowa Avenue, I have decided to record this little story on both spots.

I have some Filipinos in my family, including my grandkids, whose dad is Filipino and my latest husband. (I'm really NOT trying to be like Liz Taylor, but things happen.) One of our favorite dishes is Adobo, which is usually chicken or pork cooked in a vinegar/soy sauce mix. I don't eat it much anymore, because of the sodium, but my kids and grandkids still crave it, so I make it for them. There are several versions and different ways to make adobo. I like this one the best. Here's the basic recipe:

(This is not a weight-loss recipe. I'm just including it for the information. It is, however, quite tasty for those of you who want to try it.)

Chicken thighs or legs (trust me on this, breasts DON'T work)

Or Pork. (I use boneless spare ribs cut up smaller)

I use about 8 to 12 chicken pieces and probably about six large boneless ribs.

1/3 cup vinegar

2/3 cup soy sauce

A couple of bay leaves

1 onion chopped up or just cut in half and drop in the pot.

garlic to taste.

1 TBsp of oyster sauce (optional)

I bring the liquid to a boil, drop in the onion and then add the meat. I leave the chicken frozen. I partially thaw the pork to cut it, unless I cut it before I froze it. Adding the meat frozen means you don't have to add water. If you use fresh meat add some water, about a half cup or so. The measurements are loose on this recipe. If I want more sauce because I make more meat I increase the vinegar and soy sauce to 1/2 cup increments and add a little more water.

After dropping the meat into the pan cover it. Come back to stir the meat as it thaws about every ten or fifteen minutes. Once the meat is all covered in the sauce I lower the heat and simmer it until cooked and tender. Some people remove the meat before serving and 'brown' it in a frying pan with a little oil. That step is optional.

Serve it with rice and vegetables. I also serve a salad. It's also good with pancit, but that's another recipe.

So today's lesson is in arranging your cupboards.

I buy both my vinegar and ammonia in gallon jugs. I use vinegar for a lot of things besides cooking so I keep it under the sink. I'm sure you can see where this is going.

One day the kids were clamoring for Adobo. I got the liquid ingredients out to make it. I didn't have my glasses on (dangerous), I don't have a sense of smell (dangerous at times) and I have no memory. (also dangerous in this instance.)

As I poured the 'vinegar' into the measuring cup, I kept thinking to myself that it was odd I couldn't smell it. That is one smell my nose seems to have retained. I added it to the pot and looked at the container.

"Was the vinegar with the red label or the green?"

Hmmm....I looked at both labels, but the jug I had on the counter looked right to me and the amount in there looked right because I thought I was almost out of ammonia and the jug I had was fuller than the other jug. I turned back to the pot on the stove and added the bay leaf and the garlic and onion and stirred.

Again I was confused because I couldn't smell the mixture of soy and vinegar, only the soy.

I got the chicken and placed it in the pan, just as my son came out into the kitchen. He said, "Mom, that doesn't smell right." and I said, "I did use the vinegar, right?"

He looked at the jug. He yelled, "MOM! you're making the Adobo with ammonia!!!!"

He quickly pulled the chicken out of the pot. We were able to salvage the chicken because it was so frozen the liquid didn't absorb into it. I then remade the recipe with the right ingredients.

Now my vinegar jug goes in a different cupboard. I also make sure if I am going to cook that I take a pair of glasses into the kitchen so I can actually read labels and such. Our near disaster turned out well, but it could have been..............who knows. I don't know the effects of cooking with ammonia, but I'm glad my son came in when he did.

If you use vinegar for things other than cooking, either buy a separate jug for it, or make sure you store it with your food items and not your cleaning items.

This is one story the kids never let me live down. haha. They're such comedians!

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