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Cooking for 100 with $200

I have this dilemma every 3 months or so, and I still haven't figured it out. We take turns cooking for a crowd of 100 every Sunday, and the budget is $200. That's including the extra cost of buying organic ingredients.

The crowd is mostly older Koreans who are not that adventurous. Their idea of a good meal is a big fat bowl of spicy red soup overloaded with salt and garlic. Most groups cook a big batch of rice (already provided and not figured into the budget), a big batch of soup, and some Korean side dishes. Our group is younger, and we've been trying to experiment with other types of food.

Last time we did a Mexican-style rice with poblano peppers, and it wasn't very popular. Other dishes that have worked are vegetarian chili and shepherd's pie (with kimchi on the side, of course).

With such a limited budget, 4 cooks, and 4 hours of prep, the food needs to be easy to make (preferably one-pot with a salad on the side), neutral in flavors, easy to reheat and serve buffet style, and fitting for the Korean palate. Ideas we're toying with are a white bean tomato stew, mabo dofu, jambalaya, and lasagna.

Any other ideas? They would be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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  1. What about gumbo? Would go nicely with the rice and some familiar flavors.

    5 Replies
      1. re: susan1353

        You can do Gumbo z'herbes - green gumbo, basically - as an offshoot.. just uses a truckload of greens..

        1. re: grant.cook

          Truckload of greens sound great. Is there a lot of chopping involved? Any recipe suggestions?

          1. re: yumyumyogi

            http://www.gumbopages.com/food/soups/...

            Epicurious has a couple of recipes as well.. I do believe there is a lot of prep work..

            1. re: grant.cook

              Oh my, that's a long list of ingredients. My fellow "cooks" would kill me. :) Thanks for the suggestion anyway.

      2. Is this for church? My mom and dad do that too every few months for their church. I know they consider it a headache. I sympathize with you. What about spaghetti? Or cha chang myung (sorry for the butchering.) I was also going to suggest the lasagna idea. I'll try to think of other things my parents have done.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sibaik

          Yes it is. good to meet others in a similar bind. Chachanmyun would be delicious, but I would concerned about the noodle texture staying intact. Do you have a recipe by any chance?

          1. re: yumyumyogi

            You can prep the noodles ahead of time, drain and refrigerate them. Give them a hot water bath just before serving and the texture will be fine.
            Dicing all those veggies for the dish would be a lot of work, although there are some frozen veggie combos (potato, carrot, peas, etc) that would work. Pre-made black bean sauce is available in most Korean markets. Just thin with water to taste.

            A "Koreanised" red sauce spaghetti could be good. Add sliced jalapenos or red chili peppers and oysters to the sauce. But make another "standard" sauce for those who don't like spicy.

        2. How about a mild yellow curry with veggies and chicken.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sarah galvin

            I love curry, and it would be a great option. Only the owner of the house hates the smell of curry lingering for weeks after we cook it. Yes, many factors to consider. It's a real pain in the booty.

          2. Thought of a few more--a giant frittata or some kind of quiche? A butternut squash soup served with bread?

            1 Reply
            1. re: sibaik

              Sounds like my kind of meal, but too pricey and too much cutting for our group of non-cooks. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

            2. I wouldn't do lasagne for older asian palates because of the cheese--I know a lot of older asians who don't eat or can't eat cheese. What about linguine (or other pasta) with clam (chopped in cans) sauce? Lots of garlic is always good. You can doctor the sauce somewhat to fit their taste. Add a salad and garlic bread and you're all set.

              4 Replies
              1. re: chowser

                You're right -- last I read, the statistic was at 95% of ethnic Asians being lactose intolerant. I'm the only one in my large family who isn't (kee!). Also, the older population is not used to dairy in general, and their palates are not accustomed to its creaminess. (Sorry for the generalization, but it's hard not to make any when dealing with large numbers of people.)

                1. re: link_930

                  It's funny, I don't think most of the adults I know realize they're lactose intolerant. I made some batches of fresh chai during the winter with soy milk for this reason, and they said they'd prefer regular milk. They don't mind creamy, as long as there's plenty-o-kimchi to offset it.

                  1. re: yumyumyogi

                    Most Asians can tolerate lactose in small amounts. So I think with chai it won't be too big of a deal. Lasagne, on the other hand, seems like it would be too much for them.

                    1. re: yumyumyogi

                      I am not lactose-intolerant (thank goodness!), but I have read those who are can tolerate a glass of milk with no problems. Of course, that's theory ...

                      I would make barracho beans--pinto beans with cilantro, onion, jalapeno, bacon, spices, etc. Could serve with hot corn tortillas and butter. If I were doing this, I'd get the tortillas straight from a local tortilla factory (we had one even when I lived in Michigan). And of course, corn + beans = complete protein.

                      A not-bad church supper I remember involved rice, bulk sausage, and slivered almonds. I could dig up that church cookbook if you're interested ...