This year is over. Finally. Our national nightmare rages on, but we made it to the other side of Year One.
And January 2 is (was) National Buffet Day! (I started writing this yesterday but didn’t post until today, so sue me).
Question: what is the difference between a smorgasbord, a potluck, or a buffet?
Answer: I don’t know. And I’m too lazy to google. You tell me!
So, related/non-related: this year I revived my New Year’s Eve tradition of making a large amount of Chinese food; and I bought some new cookbooks just for the occasion!
The planned menu was extensive. With many courses–8 to be exact.
This would be party/buffet-worthy, yet I cooked just for me and Mr. Sauce, Esq.
Why? Because that’s how I roll. Did I tell you that I am certifiably insane?
Anyway, eight planned courses. But this is what I actually made.
Marble tea eggs (hard boiled eggs scented with tea and star anise), Pickled Cabbage, Peking Style (spicy pickle) Shanghai Braised Black Mushrooms (sherry, soy, sesame oil), Korean Bean Sprout Salad
Crab and Bean Curd Soup–Thick Soup (with spinach and ginger/sherry broth)
This was from the 1962 Joyce Chen Cookbook.
This was easy and delicious. So easy that I used frozen spinach and fake crab (surimi).
Let’s take a good look at the Joyce Chen Cookbook:
So that you may compare your results with those in the color picture, all dishes shown on the frontispiece are prepared exactly from the recipes in the book.
I want to make all of these but especially Almond Float because it looks like it has gelatin as an ingredient. And national Jell-O week is in February so…..
Assorted steamed dumplings with dipping sauce
Awesome. Shrimp soup dumplings, pork and veg potstickers and chicken buns. Bonus: I got to use the new steamer rack that I bought the day before.
Oyster Sauce Braised Abalone (with smoked ham–leftover from Xmas)
This recipe came from Doreen Yen Hung Feng’s The Joy of Chinese Cooking. I don’t know what year it was published, but the inscription says whatever this says:
Now to the dish:
The responses ranged from shocked to amused. I bought conch because during a quick google search on my phone while at Hmart, it said that conch could be a suitable substitute for abalone. Canned or otherwise….I guess….?
How did it come out?
Conch are rubbery little fuckers and in order to use them they need to be tenderized. To “tenderize” it I used a rolling pin and then the flat side of a meat cleaver to beat the living hell out of them. This resulted in them slipping off of the cutting board and bouncing around the kitchen. DIRTY CONCH!
I then tried to boil the ones that did not fall on the floor to get them to soften, but to no avail. I just ended up with a steaming pot of chopped up snail-like blobs.
Salt and Pepper Shrimp (fried)
This is actually a really good dish. I made it for my new year’s Chinese dinner back in 2012.
But since Mr. Sauce, Esq. and I are not the biggest eaters, I nixed it. So. Much. Food.
Foochow Steamed Clams (black beans, garlic, ginger, scallion, and sherry)
This dish is from Chef Chu’s Distinctive Cuisine of China (1982?)
AND IT WAS BOSS.
I would’ve eaten twice as much as I made. And I am sad that I didn’t have rice already made to soak up the delicious sauce. This reminded me a lot of one of my favorite dishes in the world–the black bean crabs at Hop Kee on Mott Street in NYC.
I may have to get some blue crabs at some point and make it with this sauce. YUMMMMMMY
Fried Rice, Cantonese Style (with bean sprouts and smoked ham–leftover from Xmas)
This recipe was also from the Joyce Chen Cookbook. I intended to make it with leftover ham, but I didn’t. BECAUSE I CHOSE NOT TO. Ha!
This was good. Simple. Mild. Light (odd for fried rice, yes?) I also loved it because of the “secret ingredient.”
This kind of fried rice is served in Chinese restaurants here. Different kinds of cooked meat can be added…….Brown gravy syrup makes the fried rice brown, or Kitchen Bouquet or Gravy Master can be used as a substitute. Never use soy sauce unless the rice is very dry or you prefer your fried rice soft.
Fucking Gravy Master, man.
Sparkling wine and Panettone
We technically had this course the next morning.
Breakfast of Champions!
This brand of Panattone was the best I’ve ever had. If there is enough left over the weekend (there may not be) I want to make it as Egg Nog and Panettone French Toast.
I promise I will let you know if that happens.
All in all, I did six out of eight. Not bad. I mean, I did count 4 homemade dishes as one course, so cut me some slack here.
Not enough buffet excitement for you? Here is a collection of some of my previous posts that may inspire your next buffet or potluck! Maybe a cocktail party. Which, at least when I have a cocktail party, they end up being buffets.
Click on Liberace to read about my 2015 Baltimore Christmas Parade Buffet from when I used to live on the parade route:
Here is my epic (and award winning) Mad Men party:
And my Tequila & Chili Buffet:
Happy new year from all of us (meaning me, Brian and Margot) at Dinner is Served 1972. I hope you all have a lucky year full of love and fun and good eating.