In the last few years, I have increasingly hit markets with no pre-conceived notion of what I want to serve for dinner or other meals for the upcoming week. I tend to buy what’s in season, what looks best, and what is well-priced. Sometimes, I stock up on unusual items if I think that I will have time to experiment on a dish or two. After my foraging in two markets, described in this previous post, I realized we had just way too much food in the house, and with only a few hours notice, managed to get a few friends together for a really casual Saturday dinner, with several experiments that may or may not have resulted in possible disaster. But with a wide selection of dishes, I knew everyone would find something to eat. With just six guests for dinner, I had to make something that had no pork, no shellfish and no coriander. This is the mongrelized Asian meal we threw together, to surprisingly good reviews! Up top a quick pickle made with small red western radishes (as opposed to daikon radishes or our own labanos) sliced thin and marinated in a rice vinegar, salt and sugar liquid. The red color of the skins leached into the pickling solution, creating these stunning looking discs. They were still crunchy and tasted quite refreshing.
To start we had two dishes of raw fish, up top, a kinilaw na tanguigue or ceviche of spanish mackerel with coriander sprouts as a garnish. In the foreground, an appetizer of thinly sliced raw salmon with a dressing of rice vinegar, soy, ginger and a garnish of onion sprouts. A dish I spotted on Nigella Lawson’s cooking show, this was a HUGE HUGE HIT. So incredibly easy to make, and delicious to eat! More on that in another post.
We had a small dish of deep-fried lechon and classic liver sauce on the side. And for folks who didn’t want pork, we also had pan seared slices of yakiniku cut, locally raised wagyu beef. Sorry, forgot to take a photo of this. Beef also sourced at the markets.
A large dish of homemade vietnamese rice paper rolls, stuffed with copious amounts of boiled shrimp (don’t you hate restaurant versions where they stretch a single shrimp through the entire roll?), herbs, and blanced mung bean vermicelli. These are relatively easy to make, and the homemade ones have trumped purchased versions consistently. Here likewise garnished with coriander sprouts so guests could get as much or as little hit of coriander as they desired.
A dipping sauce of thai fish sauce, lots of dayap or lime juice, coriander and chilies…
…and a second dipping sauce of peanuts and hoisin. I love these fresh spring rolls and could have had these along for a very satisfying dinner. But there was more on the menu.
We had a small bowl of deep-fried lechon for those who enjoyed pork, classic liver sauce on the side. And we also had some pan seared yakiniku cut wagyu beef, also sourced at the weekend markets. Sorry, no photo of the latter.
A plateful of lovely gai lan or kai lan, simply blanched and bathed with some oyster sauce.
And finally, some singkamas pickles to cleanse the palate between all the different dishes. A little pinoy, a little vietnamese, a little Japanese and a little bit Nigella. This all looks like it could give you indigestion, honestly I would agree, but the dinner worked out very nicely, and guests all ate heartily. :)