Asian Inspired Dinner
This past Saturday night I hosted some of my co-workers and their guest(s) at my house for a Kamikaze Chef dinner! When I told my mom what I was doing, her response, with a worried look, was “That’s brave…”. Thanks for the words of encouragement, Mom! It all turned out just fine and everyone had a great time.
I decided to revisit the Asian Inspired theme and focus on Thai and Chinese. For appetizers, I made Shrimp Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Sauce and a Peanut dipping sauce. I made the peanut sauce using creamy peanut butter, hoisin, and a few other ingredients. It might have been the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted. If you’ve never made Summer Rolls, they are kind of a pain. First there’s all the chopping of the ingredients and then getting the rice paper wrapper to the correct softness before attempting to roll it. They turned out pretty good though:
The second appetizer was a play on crab rangoons. Instead of filling and frying wonton wrappers, I baked the wrappers in the oven and then sprinkled them with ginger and cinnamon. The guests had a fun time trying to figure out what the spices were! Then for the dip, I mixed lump crab, Neufatel cream cheese, and a can of condensed seafood chowder…as recommended by a recipe I found. Unfortunately, there were some flavors in that chowder that were a bit overpowering and I think I’ll try a different recipe next time. Regardless, people seemed to like the dip overall. I know I had to bake some more wontons before dinner was served.
I also made Chicken Lettuce Wraps by marinating the chicken for a few hours first and then dicing it and pan frying it with mushrooms and water chestnuts. Someone said they were the best lettuce wraps they’ve ever had! I didn’t get a picture of them though. Dang!
Here’s what everyone brought:
Chris and Justin – Bay Scallops, Monster Salmon filets, and mozzarella cheese and heavy cream
John, Holly and Hadley – Goat Cheese, Red Bell Peppers and Local Sweet Potatoes
Kevin and Melissa – Hanger Steak and Arborio Rice
Rick and Marlaine – Giant Sea Scallops, Diced Butternut Squash
John and Cristen – Asparagus and Strawberries
**This is the first time no one brought chicken!I was excited about the challenge of two different scallops and a beef cut I’ve never used before.**
It took some talking through, but I finally came up with the menu and got cooking with the help of Chris who stepped into the Sous Chef roll with great enthusiasm. I started with the Arborio rice and some chicken broth, cooking it as traditional risotto except I started with ginger and green onions in the pan instead of shallots. Once it was cooked a little under al dente, I set it aside for a bit, knowing I wanted to use it later to make a version of fried rice. I ended up moving it to another pan towards dinner time and frying it with sesame oil, soy sauce, eggs and the bay scallops. I added some more green onions at the end to add a fresh bite to the dish. This one turned out to be the favorite of the night!
For the hanger steak, Chris cut it into stir-fry strips while I prepared some glass noodles for a traditional Thai dish called Pad Woon Sen, which has a very light sauce, primary flavors being fish sauce, soy sauce, garlic and fresh vegetables. I used some celery and bean sprouts I had on hand and then the red bell peppers. Once the vegetables had softened, I added the beef and noodles and cooked until done through, which only took a few minutes. It was quite tasty…something I could easily make again.
The squash and sweet potatoes were cooked separately and I combined with some of the heavy cream, Madras curry powder, and mashed them together. Wow, those flavors were amazing and people went back for seconds!
The salmon was marinated in a miso-soy-chili paste combo and then seared and baked. It was flaky and moist, although probably a bit overdone by the time the rest of the food was ready.
The large scallops were simply peppered and salted and then given a quick sear on each side. Unfortunately I didn’t get to try one, but I hear they were spot on.
The asparagus was blanched and served naked…the way I love my asparagus. I’ll admit, if I’d had more time, I would’ve done something more creative with it, but they got eaten up as they were!
The cheeses were quite a challenge. I ended up using the goat cheese in a red leaf lettuce salad, with some of the red bell peppers and a soy/ginger dressing I made on the spot. I have to say, the dressing and the goat cheese went very well together and I couldn’t get enough.
Lastly, the mozzarella failed the fryer test when we tried to encrust them in panko after rubbing a little wasabi on the cheese itself. They just melted completely when they hit the oil. But I remembered I had some egg roll wrappers in the fridge and I adjusted the plan to create a crispy, gooey dessert, topped with powdered sugar and fresh strawberries. They turned out to be the perfect ending to the dinner and I think the guests were a little impressed.
And here’s the whole group after dinner:
Overall, it was another successful dinner at The Kamikaze Chef’s house. Next on my to-do list is to set up a light box area where I can take pictures of the plated dishes with proper lighting. The pictures above just don’t do the food justice!
Next weekend I’m off to my friend Lyndi’s house again. You may remember the Halloween themed dinner last year for her family and another family of 6. We are adding one more person to the mix and have a fun theme for all to enjoy! Stay tuned.