Dinner No 29 hosted by Scotty: November 2016

So – I’ve NEVER done a dinner party featuring Asian food – my comfort zone is a few quality ingredients, simply cooked. Very Jamie / Gordon etc .. But I love eating Asian food, so I thought I would try it out. Finding a menu I was keen to cook was easy, finding the exotic (and new to me) ingredients less so. Thank goodness for Manuka.

The menu for my Asian style evening will be as follows ….

A lychee and Mandarin Mojito

Home made prawn crackers
(this is a crackers thing to do – and I doubt I’ll be doing it again. Whizzing up 500g of king prawn into a grey sludge seems like a sin I am stuggling to forgive myself for !).

Beef Tataki Rolls
(I hope this will be ok. Finding Mouli / Japanese raddish round here is like searching for a snow leopard in a blizzard – I’ve had to improvise)

Pork gyoza with Yuzu dipping sauce
(always something I order, so wanted to learn how to do this)

Thai style fish cakes with sweet and sour cucumber pickle
(this also seems to require you to whizz up some perfectly nice ingredients into another sludge – but this time at least it is not king prawns. I was intrigued by the cucumber pickle)

Miso and honey marinated roast Aubergine with sticky rice.
(I can’t get enough of roast aubergine and love it when I have the stick Japanese type – I’m hoping this lives up to my sushi train staple)

Opera cake with Lychee ice-cream
(As I would NEVER bother to make a pudding that involved this many steps – I thought – why not ! I’ve watched that many episodes of Masterchef and bake-off – how hard can it be ?) Not to mention I can get it ready during the day, and not fuss at the end of the evening when I think I’ll probably be a little worse for wear having drowned myself in Riesling to take the edge off the nerves !)

  1. The dedication to finding ingredients for this dinner is unsurpassed! You will have to do a lot of Asian cooking now to justify all those bottles in your cupboard.

    The mojito was an absolute winner, I love lychees and have been known to slurp down an entire can as a snack – love them so much – so to have it twice on the menu was a real treat. I think a welcome drink like this really sets the mood and I am making note to do it myself more often. Shame I was driving but also quite nice to not get sloshed when you are trying to taste all that delicious food.

    The prawn crackers were really interesting, it is totally the kind of thing that the 8ate is brilliant for – to just try something you wouldn’t dream of doing normally – sometimes these things work and you find out things are not as difficult as they appear from the outside… others.. well… others you realise why you have never tried it!! Such a shame that these didn’t quite work as the bits that were crispy were really moreish and I thought the flavour was spot on.

    The beef was perfection. A perfect size for a mouthful as well with no crumbly bits which is the annoyance of lots of canapes. I stopped at 3 but could have kept on going…

    The pork gyoza were wonderful – I LOVED the contrast between the crispy bits from the frying and the softer bits from the steaming. They tasted so authentic, could totally have been served these in a restaurant. I’m a big fan of pork and thought the filling was also perfect. The dipping sauce complimented it perfectly.

    The thai fishcakes were even nicer than a restaurant which often come as one big lump – the consistency of this was what made it so lovely with the flakes of fish being properly discernible and all the different flavours coming together in each bite. The cumber pickle was so divine that my mouth is genuinely watering just thinking about it! I am so glad there wasn’t any more of each dish as I would have kept coming back until I couldn’t move.

    The aubergine was a star too – rice was a tad bland – but maybe you need that to offset the flavour of the aubergine – which was SO delicious – I loved how easy it was to eat as well. I adore aubergines and don’t get to eat them at home so this was a real treat for me.

    And pudding was a proper bake-off style showstopper. It looked amazing it tasted really interesting with all the different layers and knowing how much effort it had taken made it taste sweeter! I thought the lychee ice-cream actually went really well although you might not put them together on paper and clever you on the sugar work, one day I will have a go.. maybe on dinner 87 or 89!

    It was a shame that you were not with us more at the table but I understand that sometimes time just runs out and all that get-ahead prep is not always possible.

    What I thought worked so well in your dinner was having the smaller dishes – it makes such an occasion out of food and it is like Christmas knowing there is another dish and set of flavours just round the corner. I thought the whole thing was outstanding.

  2. Wow Tan – what kind words – thank you! You were particularly generous about the prawn crackers which were such a disaster it was funny. I almost cried laughing when Emma tried one at the end and we all concurred they would make good baby teething snacks.

    Thank you all so much for coming and being game enough to try my Asian experiment. It actually turned out (apart from the crackers) to be pretty much what I’d planned so I was quite pleased, although as you say, I wish I had had about 1-2 more ours of prep time to get a little bit more ahead of myself so that I hadn’t had to spend so much time out of the room cooking (or that I had a more eat in kitchen so could have chatted while frying gyoza … maybe post the house rebuild if it ever happens !

    The cocktail was a complete surprise to me – I really loved it and could have had 5. Slightly embarrassingly I did have 2 (not 5!) because I miscalculated who hadn’t arrived yet which meant Emma only got the dregs of the jug (soz, whoops). Will definitely be making that again. In fact, I would make all the savoury dishes again (not just because I have quite a few bottles of Asian sauce ingredients left !) but it wasn’t all that hard, and I really enjoyed the food. If anyone else is making any of it – you can fry the fish cakes and keep them warm in the over to just serve when you like (which was my plan but I ran out of time). Also – I think the Aubergine would have kept warm well too, so I possibly could have done that further in advance and not had to faff about at dinner time.
    Finally – sugar work is easy-peasy, so you should all have some fun with that as there are lots of you tube vids as to how to do it, and the ice cream again easy-peasy. Opera cake is hard work. I’m not sure that it was nice enough to merit 3 hours of bake off style activity in my kitchen on the morning of the dinner, but it is good to try these things once.

    This dinner notched up a lot of firsts for me. It was lovely to meet Sarah Elo’s friend, I’ve never made Viennoise sponge before or coffee cream in an Italian Meringue style, and who knew there was more than one type of Miso ? (not me) … and the list could go on. I learnt loads and loved it. Thanks for coming. (and if anyone needs to know where you buy Kongu / Daikon / Yuzu / Tappioca flour / black sesame seeds from .. you know where to come !)

  3. Kat

    What an absolute coup to have an Asian fusion pop-up only 100 yards from my front door! Not only was I able to manage two of the delicious lychee mojitos (sorry Emma!) but I was also able to keep Scotty company on the Reisling front.

    Seriously amazing food Scotty. I particularly loved the beef tataki (a personal favourite) and the pork gyoza. The flavours and authenticity of the ingredients in each dish really shone through. The cucumber relish with the Thai fishcakes was also a highlight.

    Dessert was a true showstopper with each element prepared to perfection. Worthy of a Parisian pattiserie!

    Thank you Tan for inviting me along. I’ve since been thinking about what I would cook in a similar situation and have a skeleton menu in mind should you ever ask!

    Massive respect to you Scotty for the amount of work you put into the evening. Hope you managed to enjoy yourself as much as your guests did.

  4. Genius work Scotty!! What a treat – really authentic Asian food in itchenor!! If times ever get really tough you know you could set up an Asian street food shack!!
    Mojito – lychee – such a winner in cocktails. Perfect flavour – and the sweet fruity subtleness also made it a lethal cocktail as you just want to keep drinking it!!
    The rare beef – still dreaming of it, unbelievably good quality meat, cooked perfectly and the crunch of chopped veg and firey chilli was dreamy.
    Pork gyoza – totally scrummy, and so fresh out the frying pan, makes you detest now waggamamma’s…… yours were far supreme and sooooo fresh.
    Thai fish cakes…… once more such a contrast to what you eat on the high streets….. such a crumbly fresh texture, as opposed to the usual rubbbery taste.
    Aubergine and rice with miso – again unbelievably good. Rice was massively authentic and was right to be plain next to aubergine/miso…..what it needed was a side of wok greens, with a drizzle of sesame oil and a light sprinkle of sesame seeds.
    Dessert – cake and ice cream – so delicious and well done technically speaking. But pretty rich after such a varied Asian meal.
    Extra dessert (prawn crackers) blooody awful!
    Again – congrats Scotty – such a clever cook!
    Hats off to you! Love you lots, em xxxxxxxxxxx

  5. What an absolute taste sensation! Scotty you put in so much time and effort and the fruits of your labour were stunning. The prawn chews were even delicious! My favourite of the evening were the pork dumplings and the Asian fish cakes which were both to die for. Topping it all of with the utterly scrumptious opera cake.
    I went home stuffed and feeling very lucky and spoilt to have been invited. Thank you so much Scotty for a fabulous evening. You are a fantastic cook xxx

  6. Thank you for a wonderful evening! A real treat and a privilege to be invited (…..so thank you Emma too). An exiting menu and so much delicious food. Apart from the unusual, chewy prawn crackers I loved it all.
    The highlights were the pork gyoza and the Thai fishcakes extremely tasty and fresh. And for me the real showstopper was the desert. The spun sugar gave it the wow factor and the lychee ice cream had just the right amount of zing.
    So much hard work, time and effort Scotty you really produced some amazing dishes. Greatly appreciated. Lucky, lucky people who get to enjoy your next Asian feast. I hope you were not too tired the next day. Thank you Xxx

  7. Elo

    Flip Me!!
    Thank you for the most amazing evening Scotty! It was glorious walking in and all the decorations up and cosy. Really beautiful. I loved all the decorations and origami on the tables too. So pretty. Okay! the Mojito was delicious – could have really gulped that down – but far too lady like – naturally. Delicious. The Beef rolls were a real highlight for me – they were perfectly cooked, succulent and totally delicious. I would have eaten the whole lot as i thought they were really special. A wonderful idea for a canapé and I shall be asking for the recipe. The pork with the dipping sauce – again – sublime. If we are out at an asian restaurant, those are what we all order straight away. Your superseded any!! The fishcakes were really good – tasty and I liked that they were small. The pickled cucumber was fantastic. The aubergine dish was really good – but it was not my number one out of everything – but it was interesting and exactly how an aubergine should be cooked! the PUDDING!!! OH WOW! I ate every last mouthful – worth getting fat on, as my mother would say! Clever you – and the spun sugar too. Just all wonderful Scotty – you put so much effort and energy into it and it was a real pleasure to be there and I was so proud to bring my friend! THANK YOU xxxxx

  8. Wow! What a fantastic evening. I promise my tardiness in completing this is absolutely nothing to do with my enjoyment of the evening or how impressed I was with the food, only my ineptitude with finding and opening Elo’s emai! This was compounded by failing to post this yesterday so having to rewrite and try again!

    When Elo invited me to join you all I really didn’t know what to expect. I was seriously impressed – fine dining hidden away in West Sussex. Scotty, thank you soooo much, you are amazing! The attention to detail was fantastic – the table, the scrummy cocktail to start, the presentation with all those yummy dipping sauces in little pots – perfect! I am only sorry I didn’t get to talk to you more as you were whizzing about being the perfect chef and hostess.

    For me the highlight was the to-die-for Beef Takaki with that perfectly cooked melt-in-the-mouth beef. I think I had 3 (sorry if anyone missed out!), not realising how much was to come. I also loved the thai-style fish cakes with the little pot of sauce. Fantastic fresh flavours, much better than any I’ve had elsewhere – definitely worth whizzing everything together.
    What can I say about the opera cake – seriously impressed! It looked beautiful and was delicious – watch out Mary Berry! And I must try making that icecream – loved it!

    It was lovely to meet you all, thank you all so much for including me, and Elo for inviting me! And a huge thank you Scotty for such a great evening.
    Happy cooking and Happy Christmas. Sarah xx

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