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Friday, September 16, 2011

Stomachs Eleven: Japanese dinner party

Everyone loves a dinner party - it's just finding a willing host that's half the problem! J-Girl and Jon-Boy volunteered to host our latest Stomachs Eleven dinner, a group of keen food lovers who take turns to cook a group meal.

Barbecuing skate wings

Even when he's not hosting, Pig Flyin' is always on-hand with a special treat or two. Within minutes of arriving, he and Mrs Pig Flyin' were unpacking their portable Japanese yakitori grill and a mysterious packet of dried fish. The fish, it turned out, was dried skate wings, marinated in a sweet soy sauce so when they were barbecued over the grill, the fish started to caramelise and become crunchy.

These were like a fish version of pork crackling, and we snacked on them before dinner - best enjoyed with a quick dip in Kewpie sweet Japanese mayonnaise.

The skate wings were sourced by Pig Flyin' on a recent visit to Japan, and yes, they made it through Customs.

Obento box with cold tofu, edamame soy beans, cherry tomatoes in cucumber and
bundles of cooked spinach 

"Have you really been saving obento boxes for a month?" we asked when we saw the table set with black plastic trays. They'd actually gotten them from Tokyo Mart, although J-Girl confessed "then I realised I had to work out how to fill every compartment with something!"

Chicken wrapped around ham and asparagus and cooked Jap pumpkin

She did a brilliant job of course, and we picked and poked our way around an adventure park of tastes and textures. There was the wobble of cold and silky tofu dressed simply with soy and a garnish of sesame seeds and shallots. Another corner held pan-fried chicken wrapped around a core of ham and carrot. We pecked at cherry tomatoes wrapped in a column of wafer-thin cucumber. We relished the sweetness of a hunk of Jap pumpkin. We popped the pods of boiled edamame soy beans and we marvelled at the neat bundles of spinach splashed with a nutty white sesame sauce.

Cooking the gyoza

Pan-fried gyoza

The obento box was merely the entree, with a large plate of homemade pan-fried gyoza arriving shortly afterwards.

Buta no kakuni braised pork belly

Mains were an all-in sharing affair, with huge platters of braised pork belly, tea eggs and blanched beans set in the middle of the table. The pork belly was ribboned with layers of melting fat, cooked for four hours so the meat was wondrously tender. We mopped up the sweet sauce with spoonfuls of rice stirred through with finely chopped pickles.

Tea eggs

Blanched beans with sesame seeds

Pickled rice

Cooling the green tea chiffon cake

I'd been marvelling at the chiffon cake cooling in the kitchen all evening, the tin perched upside down over a bottle. It was J-Girl's third attempt at a chiffon cake and we were keen to taste test.

Matcha green tea chiffon cake and the dessert banquet

Several of us had brought desserts so by the time everything was laid on the table it looked like we had more sweets than the savouries before it. The matcha green tea chiffon was the big crowd pleaser - light and airy and fluffy, with a moist softness you only get from a homemade freshly baked chiffon.

Baked cheesecake with poached pears from Pattison's Patisserie

It was a happy coincidence realising one of our extra guests that evening was I Don't Cry. I Eat. She brought along two desserts from Pattison's Patisserie, having received a last-minute invite. The baked cheesecake was smooth and the apple strudel was impressively flaky.

Apple strudel from Pattison's Patisserie

Peanut butter and miso cookies by J-Girl

J-Girl whipped up a batch of peanut butter and miso cookies, deliberately undercooked so they were soft and chewy. The miso wasn't overly strong in these cookies, but they did lend a slight savoury umami taste.

Dark chocolate and sour cherry cookies by me

And I brought along a batch of my dark chocolate and sour cherry cookies. We had to roll ourselves out the door at the end of the evening as we swore we would never eat again.

Or at least, until tomorrow.

Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Stomachs Eleven: Bone marrow and pigs trotters (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Thai dinner (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Christmas Dinner 2010 (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Teochew feast (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Mole poblano and pulled pork tacos (Me)
Stomachs Eleven: Shanghainese banquet (M&L)
Stomachs Eleven: Wagyu shabu shabu and dessert sushi (Silverlily)
Stomachs Eleven: Stuffed deboned pig's head + nose-to-tail eating (Pig Flyin)
Stomachs Eleven: Crackling roast pork and black sesame cupcakes (me)
Stomachs Eleven: Polish feast (Miss Rice)
Stomachs Eleven: Char siu and Hainan chicken (me)
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posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 9/16/2011 01:47:00 am


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