At Sarina’s suggestion, we decided to make our New Year’s party meal into a small plate affair that we could stretch out all night. I made three plates, my brother Joel made three, and his girlfriend Sara made one, for a total of seven courses. In addition to the family, we also had Sarina’s dear friend D.M. up from LA. To keep some sort of consistency, we chose (vegetarian) Asian flavors except for the final dessert. I didn’t write much down, but I’ll walk you through the courses just for fun. Please post links to your feasts in the comments if you took pics!
The first course was the mu shu vegetable above (pancakes and hoisin not pictured), and it was the only one we had before Mini-Me went to bed. I was trying to match the delicious one at Shanghai Garden but I missed the mark a bit. Too much cornstarch in the sauce and not enough cabbage.
Round two was provided by Sara – delicious marinated vegetable and tofu kebabs that she quickly broiled.
Joel then came through we some stellar potstickers (aka Gyoza), filled with a meat substitute called Quorn. You can see the crispy goodness. It took a lot of restraint not to fry off all the extras , but we knew there was a lot more food to come.
Then we fired up the movie of the night, Superbad, which we unanimously thought hilarious. What that says about our level of maturity I don’t care to speculate. We made a chart in crayon that clearly indicated we would have to pause the movie multiple times for the additional courses or we wouldn’t be ready for dessert at midnight.
Joel than dropped in these Asian pears poached in wine and mulling spices, which he got from, ahem, an Oprah magazine. A nice, sweet palate cleanser before the last two savory courses.
Those next two plates fell to me. When I planned that I didn’t really account either for the level of cocktail imbibification that would have occurred by 10:30 nor that the kitchen would be thoroughly trashed. But it was fine, I pushed everything out of the way, took a grounding swill of whiskey sour, and rolled the sushi above. From left to right you have a basic maki with a layer of omelette rolled in next to the nori and a dot of wasabi, a two layer circle with pickled cucumber on the bottom and pickled daikon in the middle, and a take on the traditional ume shiso roll with the shiso leaf acting as the wrapper. (If you haven’t had an ume shiso roll, ask at any good sushi restaurant and prepare for a really bracing sour flavor).
By the time we got to my final course I was really making it up as I went along. I knew I wanted to do something with soba and the mushrooms, but I had originally planned to do it cold. And I had originally an ambitious idea of plating it to look like a little forest. Uh, yeah. It still tasted good. I seared the french horn mushroom and the tofu, hit the tofu with a little Korean kochujang chili paste, steamed the choy, and made a quick broth of soy sauce, miso, yuzu and mirin.
And finally we got to Joel’s beauteous New York style cheesecake, which we didn’t get into until after champagne. He made hundreds of them when he was a pastry chef at a gourmet takeout place, so we knew we were in good hands. I think I’m ready for a piece of the leftovers right now.
So that was the feast! I think we might make the small plate thing a tradition.