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Published September 17th 2014
Easy, fun, entertaining crowd pleaser food ideas
You put your phone down. Message has been sent and date has been set. Now it's time to think about what to prepare for your small gathering with close friends and family. There will be decoration, home entertainment and games. Most importantly, the food.
Of course there are many websites out there offering fabulous food ideas and recipes. Ranging from different cuisine to specific dietary needs. However all you need now is a menu that is simple, entertaining and more importantly, engaging!
Forget the conventional 3 courses setting which you may want to reserve for more formal occasion, we want to categorize all food into three sections: snacks, drinks and main.
This article focuses on main. There are few of "methods" twe love to cook our party food since our university time. The only difference is the ingredients which we upgraded, along the time since we left our time as students.
1. Throw in, dip and eat
We are talking about hotpot. Hotpot is fun, tasty and great way to engage all of your guests. All you have to prepare is a tasty broth base (this is the chance to go either healthy, naughty or kinky) and the ingredients you want to go into it (yes, vegetables and meats). Depends on the number of people, each portable gas or electric stove can cater for up to 8 people.
The soup base can easily be bought from your local Asian grocery. Flavors such as Sichuan pepper (extremely hot, but fun for those who seek for adrenalin), ginseng chicken (extremely nutritious, think of soul nourishing meal on winter night), Japanese variety (chili miso, red wine, etc.). However if you insist to make it from scratch, mix vegetable broth with water, boil some ginger, lemon grass, garlic; add dash of soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar.
Once it boils, turn down to simmer and invite your guests to dip in prepared ingredients. Starting with vegetables that took longest to cook such as daikon, then meat such as fish balls, spam meat, and rest of the meat before green vegetables. Let it simmer.
After you and your guests finish with the meat and vegetable, it's time to drop in the starch. Ranging from noodles (avoid egg noodles as it would turn the soup into murky color), udon, ramen and vermicelli. The base will become so flavorful from all the vegetables and meat dipping, it will turn into yummy noodle soup, perfect full filling meal for you and your guests.
2. Roll, wrap and eat
Another of our favorite food during gathering in spring and summer is temaki sushi roll. Literally translated as hand rolled sushi, it is an entertaining and messy-but-fun meal for everyone from young age to elderly.
Staple for temaki roll will be rice and seaweed. The rest of the ingredients will be up to you and your guests! Get them to bring something they think will fit for sushi and you all will ended up with plenty of food with minimal preparation.
Basic sushi rice is made by mixing freshly cooked short grain rice with rice vinegar and a bit of sugar. While mixing it, make sure you fan it to release the heat. Cut all ingredients such as carrots, cucumbers into 10cm stick size. Tear some salad leaves. For protein, pretty much anything will do: boneless preferably. Cut salmon into longer square, pan fried bean curd, sliced omelette, etc.
Next will be the fun part: roll and wrap it. It's really fun to see how people run their fingers, running the risk of spilling everything on the first bite if they don't do correctly. However, for you my reader/host of the party, the key lies in minimal ingredients. You heard me. Keep your rice to less than 5cm diameter.
First, cut seaweed into triangle (half across the square). Place rice in the middle, with pointy side facing up. Fill in your cut ingredients on top of the rice and squeeze some whole egg mayonaise or wasabi or mustard. Fold the left corner to top right and right corner to top left before showing it off to your guests and chomp it up. Try dipping a bit of soy sauce.
This option may call for few guests who are eager to show off their flipping skill. It is okonomiyaki party! Okonomiyaki or Japanese pancakes have all the ingredients to fill all those hungry belly. It's also a fun way to wow your guests with your flipping technique.
All you need is an electric hot plate, oil spray, flour mix (recipe below), mayonnaise and okonomiyaki sauce (you can make this too). Essential ingredients okonomiyaki sauce can be bought from your nearest Asian store that stocks Japanese ingredients. However it's essentially mixture of BBQ sauce and tomato sauce with dash of honey and ginger.
First of all, to make the flour mixture combine 100gr of plain flour with 120ml warm water and 1 tsp powder dashi or chicken powder. The measurement is quite flexible for as long as it turn into thin pancake butter consistency.
Spread the flour mixture on greased hot pan, like making a pancake. Top the mixture with shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, beansprout, noodles and pork slices. Pour in a little bit of extra flour mixture to stick all the ingredients together. Flip it to cook the other side. First flip as practice!
Meanwhile, crack an egg to fry and try to keep it flat and round. While it's still runny on top, move the pancake to sit on top of the eggs. Quickly call everyone around (to watch) and flip the whole pancake. Eventually, it's eggs on the top.
Next, spread okonomiyaki sauce on top of the pancake. Squish lots of Japanese whole egg mayonnaise prettily (get your guests or kids to do it) before topping it up with lots of chopped green onions. Additionally, seaweed powder and chili powder to add extra punch.