25 Aug2011

A Birthday Dinner…

by Marketman

A small birthday dinner with friends and family but with a casual twist… Instead of a large roast, thick steak, or similar treat, I decided to cook up a vaguely Japanese-y dinner. Instead of wine glasses, beer ones instead. The number of plates required to pull off such a meal is actually mind boggling, and the dinner wasn’t anywhere near as authentic as it should have been! Notice the post-it notes on each of the serving dishes so that we would remember what dishes to put in each plate , bowl, etc.

First up, the brined, steamed and fried chicken of David Chang. It was still a bit dry on the second attempt, and as of today, I have tried it a third time where we DID NOT steam the chicken, but instead fried smaller pieces. I don’t think I will steam this ever again… Also, the addition of dayap juice to the “octo-vin” dressing is a GREAT enhancement…

Some deep-fried soft-shell crabs on a bed of arugula with a Japanese soy dressing.

A bowl of vegetable yakisoba made with thin Chinese egg noodles (quite good, and rather healthy without the pork)…

…and a quick hop across to the mainland for a couple of bowls of kimchi…

…which I find pairs beautifully with the rich and delicious wagyu beef yakiniku.

I also dipped some enoki and other small mushrooms in a light tempura batter and fried them for just a few seconds until lightly golden brown. These were delicious, and inspired by an email sent to me by Mimi, from Singapore, which included photos of some fried enokis she did a few weeks back.

I put out a little dish of pickled rainier cherries, which were a surprise hit, the acidity and sweetness a nice foil for the fried and rich food. I also put out a bowl of homemade pickled singkamas and a small dish of pickled young ginger root.

There was also a dish of poached shrimp in a kewpie dressing with radish sprouts…

…and last and actually least, a dish of eggplant with a cold sesame dressing that wasn’t very good… I was afraid the dinner might not work, but the opposite seemed to be the case… everyone ate a LOT of food, conversation was light and casual, people were free to pick and choose what they wanted to eat and eat more of. Desserts up next. :)



  1. Divine G. says:

    From the table setting to the food you have just proven that you have “it” in you. The word is “BEAUTIFUL” Well as you have said some of your experiments have not reach your goal but who says that everything will be perfect on the first try, at least you have tried and now you know what to do and what not to do. Well done MM…..

    Aug 25, 2011 | 6:12 am


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  3. Divine G. says:

    What is a kewpie dressing? Did you give us this recipe before? I could not find it .

    Aug 25, 2011 | 6:22 am

  4. Raph says:

    Those deep fried soft-shell crabs really look yummy! Belated happy birthday Marketman! Thank you and all the best! :)

    Aug 25, 2011 | 7:09 am

  5. millet says:

    very nice. Sonetimes it’s nice to veer away from the usual heavy, saucy party stuff. Waiting for dessert!

    Aug 25, 2011 | 7:11 am

  6. Elaine says:

    Lovely setting indeed.. Love those beautiful, probably handcrafted serving dishes/and bowls. Out of all the spread, 3 are vegetarian friendly:) I should experiment with the tempura enoki.
    @ Divine, I think the kewpie dressing is the Japanese Mayo sold in squeeze bottles. Kewpie, being referred to the Japanese ? doll logo..

    Aug 25, 2011 | 7:20 am

  7. Betchay says:

    Our dinner table is also a long rectangular one( sits 10) in which case you have to ask your neighbor to please pass the food from the other side of the table . So I sometimes miss my mom’s big round table with a lazy susan on top—no favors to ask from your neighbor and no one noticing how many servings you had! LOL! But of course long tables look more formal and chic….especially when it’s presented so well like you always do in your party meals.

    Aug 25, 2011 | 7:55 am

  8. Clarissa says:

    How do you manage to pull off meals like this? :) Whenever I cook for my friends, which will be a max of 8, plus 3 to 4 of my family, I would start slaving in the kitchen early for maybe 3 to 4 dishes. You have more than 8 with only the cherries and kimchi, and maybe the salad, prepared beforehand. I want to be able to this too, but be pretty in time for the arrival of my friends too :)

    Aug 25, 2011 | 8:25 am

  9. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    “A bowl of vegetable yakisoba made with thin Chinese egg noodles (quite good, and rather healthy without the pork)…”

    I think cubes of meat and skin (stomach area) of your zubuchon will enhance this noodle dish to high heavens!!! Yummy….I am salivating just thinking about it!

    Aug 25, 2011 | 10:10 am

  10. Anne :-) says:

    MM, did you make the thin Chinese egg noodles?

    Aug 25, 2011 | 10:45 am

  11. Marketman says:

    Anne, no, I bought them at Shoemart, they were in quite premium looking imported packaging, and I must say, they were good. I didn’t catch the brand, but plastic had a lot of black on it. Artisan, of course a porky version would be better. :) Clarissa, I don’t look “pretty” at these meals, I look like a line cook that’s been in a hot kitchen… plus I have a wonderful crew who go into fourth gear when we have dinners like these… Betchay, actually our table is two rectangular tables put together; and I did two servings of each dish so that each table would have everything within easy reach. Elaine, the bowls were all bought second hand, for PHP50 or so each at the FTI market, brought in from Japan second hand places probably, before the nuclear fiasco. I would have made a green vegetable dish as well, but ran out of time… millet, dessert post up next. Raph, thanks! Divine, kewpie is just a japanese mayonnaise with a thinner and lighter consistency with a bit more sugar. I added some dayap juice, salt and pepper and mixed it with the prawns…

    Aug 25, 2011 | 11:13 am

  12. ragamuffin girl says:

    Happy Bday MM! The fried enoki mushrooms are a staple order for us at The Chairman here in HK. Light and crunchy without being too greasy. I would love to be an adopted guest at your dinners. The stuff you serve (anything with dayap and citrusy stuff and pickled anything) is wonderful! I personally have 3 kinds of atsaras at home at any given time. How I wish I could plant calamansi here in HK. Have you tried Viet World Kitchen’s bonchon chicken recipe? Also very good. :)

    Aug 25, 2011 | 11:32 am

  13. Mart says:

    What a wonderful spread! Thanks for sharing MM!
    I’ll have to try the tempura enoki some day.

    Aug 25, 2011 | 12:03 pm

  14. obot says:

    i did notice that the chairs are of different height and make. very cute!

    Aug 25, 2011 | 12:28 pm

  15. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    “There was also a dish of oached shrimp in a kewpie dressing with radish sprouts…”

    Where can we get them oached shrimps?

    Aug 25, 2011 | 12:38 pm

  16. tintin says:


    Aug 25, 2011 | 12:57 pm

  17. k. ramos says:

    MM, is the kimchi store-bought or did you make it ahead of time?

    “I would have made a green vegetable dish as well, but ran out of time” –> I immediately thought of boiled young edamame with sea salt I had once. Delicious.

    Aug 25, 2011 | 1:23 pm

  18. Dragon says:

    @Artisan – noticed that too.

    Are those shrimps in pain – as in ouch?

    Aug 25, 2011 | 2:01 pm

  19. betty q. says:

    …maybe the eggplant dish would have tasted better if the slices were barbecued first, then napped with a light ginger-sesame dressing.

    MM… we just love kimchi as well…fortunately, my son’s best friend is Korean and makes the BEST kimchi I have ever tasted. I have had my share of eating a lot of kimchi…given by neighbours, gardener friends and friends of friends…however, my son’s best friend’s aunt makes a really awesome one and promised that the next batch she makes which is in about a month’s time, she will make it with me.

    Aug 25, 2011 | 2:36 pm

  20. chreylle says:

    its my birthdy next month, i hope i can copy at least two of ur dishes .. two thumbs up always for the table setting :)

    Aug 25, 2011 | 3:04 pm

  21. Lambchop says:

    the shrimps look absolutely divine! yum yum!

    Aug 25, 2011 | 3:11 pm

  22. MP says:

    OMG, perfect timing MM. I’m planning for my hubby’s birthday party and he was hinting that a Japanese themed meal would be great. His colleagues (from all over the globe) are expecting a Pinoy meal but we always serve Pinoys dishes everytime they come over so I want to surprise them! I inherited several stuff from his Japanese colleague who transferred to another mission (+ my own) so I think I may be able to pull it off. I so love your table arrangement. I think it is equally important so if my dishes are not up to par, at least the guests are having them in a beautiful setting :-). I just hope I can get some Kewpie mayo here…

    Aug 25, 2011 | 4:58 pm

  23. KUMAGCOW says:

    Happy Happy Birthday Sir MM! :) from your first exposure you’ve come a long way heheh :) reading you is like therapy to people like me who are still in a diet, but failing miserably haha… but I’ll try!

    Aug 25, 2011 | 5:26 pm

  24. ConnieC says:

    MP: Kewpie mayo recipe here:

    Japanese Mayonnaise (http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art36096.asp)

    1 cup vegetable oil *
    2 egg yolks
    1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
    2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
    ½ tsp. salt
    1/8 tsp. karashi hot mustard, optional
    pinch of white sugar, optional

    Aug 25, 2011 | 6:10 pm

  25. QueenB says:

    Belated Happy Birthday MM! Love the bowl where you served the chicken.

    Aug 25, 2011 | 7:09 pm

  26. MP says:

    Thank you, thank you, ConnieC! I just came back from the supermarket and can’t find Kewpie mayo! I’m not sure if the eggs here are ‘right-off-the-chicken’ fresh so do you think it’s safe to make my own mayo?

    MM, what wine did you serve? Our guests are wine enthusiasts (nice term for ‘drunkards’, them being German, French, Aussies..I must say haha) and while they will surely bring wine, I would like to have ones that would go well with a Japanese/Asian themed dinner (no, sake is not available here). And if they don’t like the meal, I can get them drunk!

    Aug 25, 2011 | 7:11 pm

  27. MP says:

    MM, would lemon be a good substitute for dayap (for your shrimp salad)? No dayap nor fresh limes here, unfortunately.

    Aug 25, 2011 | 7:16 pm

  28. Footloose says:

    A bibulous crowd then, MP. They are fun and livelier than a bunch of dry abstainers who are always on their best behavior. Allan Bennett says that people who are always on their best behavior are seldom at their best.

    Aug 25, 2011 | 7:54 pm

  29. david says:

    This blog is a dangerous read sir, specially when working overtime and dinner-less wahhhh!!!

    Aug 25, 2011 | 8:14 pm

  30. Marketman says:

    david, sorry, it does seem to affect people that way… MP, yes lemon would work. We served beer with dinner, though one guest brought a bottle of red I think. ConnieC, thanks for posting that recipe. k. ramos, tore bought kimchi… Artisan, thanks, revised the post… Obot, the chairs are a mixture of old and new replicas, all mixed up. Betchay, our dining table is actually two rectangular tables together and I served two plates of each dish, so that each table would have every dish, within easy reach… Divine G, kewpie is a type of japanese mayonnaise…

    Aug 25, 2011 | 8:35 pm

  31. Carol says:

    Dear MM – Happy, happy birthday! May you continue to be God’s blessing to others, as you have been to most of us, selflessly sharing your time, passion and knowledge. Here”s to more years of good health, true happiness and contentment in life. Cheers always, CAROL

    Aug 25, 2011 | 8:54 pm

  32. gensanite says:

    i think the tables and chairs combo looked very classy – a fusion of old and new… nice table set-up; doesn’t look very crowded even with the number of dishes that you served that night… belated happy birthday… cheers!!!

    Aug 25, 2011 | 8:58 pm

  33. Elizabeth says:

    What a spread! I am thinking of replicating that dish of “poached shrimp in a kewpie dressing with radish sprouts.” Hope the recipe is simple enough to follow. :)
    Love the table setting — the white roses, the votive candles in the white vases that look like seashells! :)

    Aug 25, 2011 | 9:05 pm

  34. MP says:

    Oppps sorry MM, I missed your “no wine glasses, only beer ones, instead” line. Gosh, my hubby’s colleagues always start with beer, then white for the seafood/appetizers, then red during dinner to go with the meat, then stronger liquor (cognac or brandy) to help in the digestion (according to them). Not a wine fan myself, I had to buy a wine book so I am guided with what goes with what. Much simpler when I have the Friday ladies around, Coke, any pork dish and gulay will surely make them happy…

    Bibulous, indeed Footloose. I like that word, I’ll use that to impress them…. I am assuming it has something to do with being ‘bibo’? And yes, I like them at their bibulous best rather than other guests trying to restrain themselves…we’ve had a few complaints from neighbors though..

    Aug 25, 2011 | 9:53 pm

  35. wisdom tooth says:

    Nice spread of food, MM. I will bookmark this page for easy reference in the future. We had guests for dinner a few weekends back and prepared a Singaporean/asian theme with Hainanese chicken rice as the main dish and some sides of veggies and some pickles and mango pudding as dessert and this menu was put together with the help of no other than Betty q. Also in one of our dinners at home, we had your Paella and your tapas. Guests are always impress at how “gourmet” our meals can get. Maraming salamat at maligayang bati ulit, MM. More power and keep posting…

    Aug 26, 2011 | 1:47 am

  36. Carpenter Girl says:

    Happy Birthday Mr. M. Your Birthday dinner food selection is very different than the usual birthday salo salo. They all look very appetizing. Can’t wait for the dessert post :)
    By the way, is your dining table made of kamagong?

    Aug 26, 2011 | 6:55 am

  37. Divine G. says:

    Thanks MM, Elaine and Connie C. for the kewpie dressing info/recipe.

    Aug 26, 2011 | 7:31 am

  38. ConnieC says:

    MP: We are abstainers in our household for health reasons but you may get ideas for wine pairings if not now, then later if you entertain often here:


    Aug 26, 2011 | 9:25 am

  39. ConnieC says:

    MP: Here’s one for Asian food and beer pairings:


    Aug 26, 2011 | 9:30 am

  40. LesterG says:

    MM, how come you decided not to steam the Momofuku fried chicken which is essential for crispy skin? So what did you do anyway to replace the steaming method?

    Aug 26, 2011 | 9:42 am

  41. JClark says:

    MM, I apologize for posting off topic, but I wasn’t sure how else to contact you. I am going to try my hand at lechon in two days. I have been reading your experiments from ’08 and am both excited and terrified because I’ve never cooked a whole pig in any way and have 10 to 15 people coming who expect to eat! I have two questions for you, if you have a chance. First, are there any tips you have come across since your 5th experiment that may help out? Second, I unfortunately have no bamboo here in New York so I am still deciding what to use. I have considered cutting down a young maple tree and stripping the bark. Any thoughts? Thank you very much!

    Aug 26, 2011 | 9:49 am

  42. mojito drinker says:

    happy birthday MM!

    Aug 26, 2011 | 11:12 am

  43. rizza says:

    Belated Happy Birthday MM!!! :)

    Aug 26, 2011 | 12:17 pm

  44. Marketfan says:

    Sounds like a great dinner. You should have invited all of us, ha ha just kidding. Happy Birthday!

    Aug 26, 2011 | 12:35 pm

  45. MP says:

    Thank you ConnieC!!! Indeed, the hubby entertains a lot of bibulous colleagues so the link will be very, very helpful to me. Just thinking of what to serve and the wine that goes with them is a major headache. Maraming salamat.

    Aug 26, 2011 | 5:57 pm

  46. Pecorino1 says:

    Thanks for the account of your bday dinner. Where can one get radish sprouts (kaiware) in Manila?

    Aug 26, 2011 | 8:28 pm

  47. Marketman says:

    JClark, if you are roasting outdoors over a charcoal fire, then go ahead and use a metal spit, rather than some untried sapling or tree trunk. As for tips, its really all about how you manage the fire, too much too soon and you will singe it. Too little and you won’t cook it. I hate to be imprecise, but we didn’t get it totally to our satisfaction until after at least a few dozen times. And today, we are NOT consistently even either… :) Pecorino1, I got the radish sprouts from the Salcedo market, the organic stall near the center of the market. LesterG, I skipped the steaming as it made the chicken meat tougher and drier, not moister as Chang’s recipe suggests. The steaming does not necessary make the skin crisper, its the sugar in the brine that transforms the skin and caramelizes it. What I did was adjust the size of the chicken peices, brined them, and deep fried them in pure lard. The results were spectacular. They were still juicy for the most part, and had all of the flavor I wanted…

    Aug 27, 2011 | 9:47 am

  48. Alisa says:

    Happy Birthday! I can see myself making this for a really small group. I love the placemats, the different chairs, and the chopsticks!

    Aug 27, 2011 | 10:04 am

  49. Pinaycook says:

    wow, lovely table setting.. simple but elegant :)

    Aug 28, 2011 | 1:05 am

  50. trax says:

    belated happy birthday, MM. Many more years to come for you and this site.

    If ever I get the chance to buy some zubuchon, can i request which part would be given to me?

    Aug 28, 2011 | 1:40 pm

  51. LesterG says:

    Oh….anyway, after you posted David Chang’s Momofuku Chicken, I decided to do the same.
    I used thighs from magnolia and 1st attempted brining and deep fry in veg oil and the next attempt is BRINE-STEAM-DEEP FRY, still in veg oil. I still having a hard time tweaking and perfecting the chicken as you have mentioned, and the longing to do it as how Chang has done it.

    If it is not so persistent for me to ask, would you lend me some of your advice regarding this, or maybe a foundation recipe of this chicken? as step-by-step. And also can you send me steps on making lard? I’m planning for a business idea kasi eh…. :D

    Thanks a lot and Kudos to you MM!!!

    Aug 29, 2011 | 11:34 am

  52. Amee says:

    Everything looks absolutely drool-a-licious. Especially the soft shell crab and beef yakiniku.

    Aug 30, 2011 | 11:54 pm

  53. Claire says:


    Sep 1, 2011 | 5:49 pm

  54. Maitta Z. says:

    what an inspiration. I feel like I want to cook something as nice-looking for dinner! thank you.

    Sep 1, 2011 | 6:59 pm


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