Sushi party

A sushi party is one of the best ways to hold a dinner party. For any Japanese and/or sushi connoisseurs reading this, I am using the term ‘sushi’ quite broadly. In this context, it’s anything served with sushi rice. At a sushi party, your guests do half the preparation, adding to the occasion.

All you have to cook is the sushi rice, which does need to be done several hours in advance, – the rice has to cook, and then cool to room temperature. I allow 4 cups of Japanese rice for 6 people. The traditional way is to wash and polish the rice many times to remove the ‘loose’ starch and let the rice soak in water for 30 minutes before cooking so your cooked rice is fluffy, but not sticky. I tend to just wash it a couple of times, and straight into the rice cooker. I don’t eat enough sushi to be an expert, but good sushi rice should have a firm texture but you can still pull away the individual grains and is sticky, but never gluggy. Continue reading

Laksa, Kuala Lumpur style

My dear friend, J and I have had many good-natured mocking and debates over laksa. I assert that Sarawak laksa is the ultimate interpretation of the spicy noodle soup, whereas J always insists that the version from Kuala Lumpur is superior. And one day, the gauntlet was thrown and J agreed to cook for us the ‘superior’ KL laksa.

J made the spicy gravy soup from scratch, processing and blending the whole spices, which I have to take my hat off to. I only ever used spice paste; why would you, when you are a hacktress? But back on the subject of laksa, the main differences are:

KL Laksa
Sarawak laksa
Use of curry spices, – turmeric
No turmeric
Fish sauce
No fish sauce
No palm sugar
Mix of noodles, use of egg noodles
Only vermicelli noodles
More coconut milk
Less coconut milk
No tofu
Hard boiled eggs
Shredded omelette

The similarities are greater than the differences, but the proportions of spices and ingredients used have been adapted over time have resulting in quite unique versions of laksa.< Continue reading

Raclette party

I’m always in for a DIY dinner party. Doubly more when the host tells you there’s melted cheese involved. Seriously, cheese should always, always, be melted. What marvellous alchemy is it that a rubbery/crumbly bit of salty, savoury yellow mass turns into lava of unctuous deliciousness?

The Swiss are onto a good thing with the raclette (both the name of a melt-y cheese and the electric grill used to melt cheese). The raclette grill consists of an electric element with a non-stick hotplate on top and non-stick minipans tucked underneath. Each guest gets their own pan.

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Sarawak laksa

If you’re not in Sarawak, the phrase ‘Sarawak laksa’ is always followed by the word ‘party’. The only way to eat laksa is with a group of friends, preferably Malaysians. I count several West Malaysians as my close friends, and we often debate the merits of the various versions of laksa you find in Malaysia (e.g. Penang laksa, curry laksa, assam laksa, etc), but in my books, no other laksa comes even close to the sheer deliciousness of Sarawak laksa.

To have a laksa party, you have to procure some laksa paste. You have to beg, steal or bring some back from Kuching because you cannot buy these for love or money outside of Sarawak. Luckily, most Sarawakians have a well-developed network to maintain their precious stash (fingers crossed that my laksa shipment actually gets here, – does anyone know how reputable PosLaju is?).

It takes almost as much time and effort to make laksa to feed 2 people than to feed 10, so you might as well make a whole bunch of people happy. Continue reading

Dumpling party

The person who first thought up a dumpling party is a food hack genius. This is truly an über food hack, how else you can have a fabulous dinner party where you get your guests to make and cook their dinner (and even stock your freezer), they bring snacks, drinks and dessert, and still give you the credit? Like I said, genius!
I used the recipe from Sachie’s Kitchen. Makes 180 dumplings.

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