One of my goals this year is to have monthly dinner parties. My first one, in January, involved roasted marinated beet salad, carrot and sweet potato puree soup with pear slices, white chocolate risotto that I learned how to make at Cilantro Cooks in Nova Scotia, and mixed berry crumbles for dessert. I had forgotten to prepare and/or serve a lot of things I had planned for that gathering (such as a side for the risotto and the ice cream for the dessert), but I think the dinner party went well enough.
On the last weekend in Feburary, I went further abroad than Nova Scotia for my menu--Korea! I know I called it my "Special Pan-Asian Night of Deliciousness," and I planned on making Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese dishes (at least), but other than the spicy mango chutney and garlic naan, most of the recipes I ended up using were from Maangchi, my favourite Korean cooking blogger.
This is the aforementioned mango chutney. It is also the dish that led to the revelation that I'm incredibly allergic to mango. The lymph nodes under my armpits were huge; I had red, hivey, swollen patches all over my body; and my eyelids puffed up so much that it was hard to watch Xena on my computer while I was preparing some recipes a few days before the dinner party. Luckily, I was off work; unluckily, I had to skip my personal training session last-minute.
A lot of food allergies, at least the ones I'm used to having, are side-stepped when a food allergen is cooked. Not so with mango, as I found out during the dinner party--I had a tiny bit of the chutney, and then had a tiny bit of the allergic reaction. It was tasty, but maybe a little too caramelized--I was distracted by a series of work-drama-related phone calls and the beginnings of my allergic reaction, so the chutney was on the stove a bit longer than it should have been.
These were my own creation. I had a lot of leftover rice from other dishes, so I rolled some into balls, coated them with cinnamon/sugar, powdered roasted black sesame/sugar, and coconut flakes and baked them. I liked them, but others' opinions varied widely.
This was perhaps one of my favourite dishes I prepared from one of Maangchi's recipes: kongjang, or caramelized-soy-sauce-and-sugar soybeans of delight! I've already made a second batch. They taste teriyaki-ish, and sometimes they remind me of jerky, in a pleasant carnivore-turned-vegetarian way. Who needs meat when you can eat kongjang? I think everyone liked Maangchi's broccoli pickles that I made, too, but I didn't photograph those.
I didn't take a photo of the sigeumchi namul, the sauteed garlic spinach side dish, before we all dug into it. The boy said he'd like more of this--it was so quick to prepare that that's not hard to offer!
I really enjoyed the musaengchae, or raw radish salad. It was another easy-to-prepare dish that had an excellent mixture of sweet and heat. Also, hell, fun with chopsticks!
The kimchibokumbap, kimchi fried rice, was one of the last-minute-decision dishes. I wanted to use the new batch of mak kimichi I made, but I wanted to try something different from the kimchi pancakes I always make. The kimchibokumbap was tasty, sure--but it wasn't as spicy as I had hoped, nor did I fry the rice as much as I wanted to. I think drier rice would have been better--I used a mix of sushi, jasmine, and brown rice (there was an accident with the rice when I got some glass containers a few months ago), and sushi and brown rice both get a little bit wetter than I think would have been best for fried rice. I let the rice dry overnight in the fridge--which really only offered a crusty top layer, not an evenly dried bowl of rice. Next time, I'll just cook different rice for my kimchibokumbap.
The main dish was japchae, because I had never made it before. I didn't use the beef the recipe called for--I substituted cubes of tofu. I also added some radish (I had a little left over after making the musaengchae). This was quite a tasty entree! It's one of the few nonspicy Asian main dishes I've ever cooked, and I know I'm going to try it again.
I have made Maangchi's maejakgwa before, for my (now award-winning) strawberry soup. These were tasty after-dinner snacks, along with the chocolate creme pie that Jenna of ModernDomestic and DC State Fair brought (which I didn't photograph, unfortunately, although it was tasty!).
I had planned on making some of Maangchi's jatjuk (pine nut porridge), but I nixed the idea after everyone claimed to be overfed. It is truly filling, if you eat an entire pot of it! I seasoned mine with cinnamon and sugar--it tasted amazing!
These would have been desserts, too, but I ate them all prior to the dinner party. I made Maagnchi's gyungdan recipe days in advance, but later, when I snuck a taste, I realized that they don't exactly store well--they need to be fresh-made before serving. I liked them enough to eat after they were refrigerated for a few days, but I wouldn't serve them to others. They are coated with cinnamon/sugar, powdered toasted black sesame/sugar (best topping ever!), and powdered sugar and flour (not great... Coconut is better). I made some for coworkers, too, and they seemed to be a hit!