A Chinese menu for entertaining, cookbook ideas?
Thinking of having a pretty formal dinner for friends. It is not hard to think of some books to come up with formal Italian or Friench menus for a dinner party, but I must admit to being a little stumped for a more Asian theme.
My only resources at hand are some older Barbara ropp books and Martin Yan's Chinatown. What else am i missing? I know there is more out there. I'd like a great, sort of formal, multicourse dinner with courses my guests have not seen before. What can I do?
I don't know about cookbooks, but a search for "Chinese banquet" (or "Chinese banquiet menu") will probably help you immensely. And, considering the time of year, also search for "chinese new year food" for ideas. Once you have a menu, you can pick recipes from cookbooks you already have on hand.
During March 2008 two cookbooks written by Fuschia Dunlop were the Cookbooks of the Month. The recipes were very well recieved by those of us who cooked along.
The books were, "Land of Plenty" and "Revolutioinary Chinese Cooking." Dunlop is an internationally reknown authority on Sechuan and Hunanese cooking. Here is the master thread which gives links to various chapter reports and some of her recipes you'll find on line:
2nding this. So far, just have Land of Plenty and her memoir; the recipes we've tried so far have been pretty successful, including for my girlfriend's folks (Chinese, though not Sichuanese), who we generally avoid making Chinese food for. The author makes some accommodations for western audiences (using ham instead of Chinese bacon, otherwise avoiding ingredients that might be too difficult to find in a lot of places, and maybe toning down the spice a notch or two), but overall, she sticks to what I imagine to be pretty authentic ingredients and methods. She also has some thoughts about the order for serving stuff.
Of course, the recipes in these two books are mostly Sichuanese and Hunanese, but there are plenty of options that aren't super spicy, or dishes that are more generic.
This may be obvious, but one thing to keep in mind is that for certain dishes, you *need* to have the right ingredients, so find a good Chinese / Asian market if possible, use care when substituting ingredients, picking out sauces or preserved foods, etc. Just doing that will get you a lot of the way. If you try using Tahini for Chinese sesame paste, apple cider vinegar for black vinegar, or whatever, you may get less than optimal results. Of course, if you don't make Chinese food a lot, this means you may end up with some unnecessary ingredients piling up in your cupboard.
These are some good ideas! Thanks everyone! I was thinking of maybe picking up Ken Hom's "Fragrant Harbor", Susanna Foo's "Fresh Inspiration", maybe "Occidental Tourist",and an Australian book or two (Bill Granger or Neil Perry).
I like the idea of checking out some menus. I would never have come up with that.