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Jul 31, 2011 03:09 PM

Ideas for Japanese Dinner Party

It is our turn to host the next supper club. It will be in two months, so I have plenty of time to plan.
The dinner will be for twelve people. All members draw their cuisine out of a hat. This time we pulled Japanese.
Would love to hear any suggestions for a complete menu for twelve.


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  1. Are you wanting a menu served in the traditional Japanese way (several dishes all at once with the main component being rice), or a Western style menu of Japanese foods (a progression of courses)?

    1. If you have access to decent, not too expensive seafood, you could do the following.

      - Salt grilled fish, with one fish per person (you can do this under the broiler with good effect), served with steamed white rice and grated daikon. Grated daikon and a bit of soy are a very tasty and traditional accompaniment for fish.

      Then for side dishes you could do

      - Tofu salad; basically a chunk of silken tofu, topped with some grated ginger and a bit of soy.

      - marinated cucumber and seaweed salad - basically very thinly sliced cucumbers and rehydrated seaweed marinated in rice vinegar.

      - Japanese style pickles

      - cooked spinach with sesame dressing

      For dessert, you could simply serve some fresh fruit, as you don't normally get much dessert at the end of the meal, and you could have sake as a drink.

      Basically everything except the fish can be done ahead of of time, and most of the prep-work for the fish.

      For another idea, if you wants something a little more casual, and have a barbecue and no vegetarians, you could do yakitori (grilled meats on a stick), plus a an assortment of salads and pickles, like above, and serve it with sake and beer, and go for a Japanese drinking place meal.

      1. Apps: Yakitori is always a crowd pleaser. as is gyoza. If you have access to fresh fish, you can do some sushi/rolls, which everyone loves.

        A typical japanese meal revolves around a bowl of rice, but cold soba is wonderful in the summer. I might serve that as an app also.

        If you serve rice, you'll want to think of sides. A good centerpiece might be a nice salted or miso grilled fish. If you're keeping it communal you could attempt something like a nabe or sukiyaki/shabu shabu. They're very impressive and fun when done right.

        If you're looking for something simpler and casual, some form of donburi would be easy and fun - a bowl of rice topped with some sweet-salty meat type thing.

        1. Coincidently enough, I held a Japanese dinner party for six a little over a month ago. Japanese is our favourite! Following is my menu, along with a few options. It’s all very doable BUT prep work and organisation are critical, along with a helper. Much of the prep can be done in advance. I planned and laid out all the pans and little serving dishes ahead of time, labelled so my helper (husband) and I didn’t get confused. A microwave is handy for gently reheating sauces. Drinks; warm sake, Japanese beer, white wine (nothing too oaky).

          This menu, as you can see, is served Japanese banquet-style, with each dish served alone and in little bites. Most recipes are from “Practical Japanese Cooking” by Shizuo Tsuji et al, though some are my own. If anything sounds good let me know and I’d be pleased to provide the recipes and pictures.

          Appetizer (amuse-bouche): Jellied shrimp. A single steamed shrimp and 2 green peas suspended in a deep golden cube of jelly made with bonito stock, dark soy, sake, mirin. Make 1 day ahead.

          2nd course: Sashimi or sushi. If making sushi, make rice ahead and cover with a damp towel. Don’t make the kind with the nori wrapper because the nori gets limp; some veg can be cut ahead..

          3rd course: Vegetable tempura. Mushroom, sweet potato, green pepper, squid, etc. and mint leaves. Cut veg and make dipping sauce ahead.

          4th course: Chawan-mushi (savory custard). A loose steamed egg custard with chicken, shiitake mushroom, spinach and ginkgo nuts. Can be prepared in morning; steams for 20-30 minutes**OR** Clear Soup with Chicken Balls and Cucumber. Make in advance, adding cucumber before serving.

          5th course: Grilled Salmon or Sea Bass. Serve with lemon and sake, garnished with a few fine beans. Only takes a few minutes.

          6th course: Shrimp Boats. Shrimp puree spread onto green pepper, steamed and drizzled with toasted sesame oil. **OR** Stuffed potato buns (mashed potato with shrimp, crab, beef or pork in a golden ginger sauce with green garnish. Unusual and very good, can be made ahead but steaming process must be carefully watched) **OR** Stuffed Cabbage (Chinese cabbage, ground chicken, ginger)

          7th course: Something a bit acidic like Spinach Rolls, Marinated Watercress, or Simmered Bamboo Shoot with Wakame Seaweed.

          8th (Main and most substantial) course: Tofu “hamburger. Tofu mixed with cloud ear mushroom, white miso, carrot, potato and scallion, lightly fried. Served on a pool of a red sauce made with onion, served with a little baby potato, steamed carrot and watercress garnish. **OR** Soba Noodles with Duck **OR** Chicken and Egg on Rice (Donburi) **OR** Pork and Egg on Rice (Katsudon).

          9th course: Plain boiled rice served with pickled vegetables and miso soup. This combination is always served at the end of the meal. If serving the Donburi or Katsudon, you might wish it move it up the menu order of service so you don’t have two rice dishes served one after the other.

          Other options:
          * Iceburg lettuce with carrot-ginger dressing a’la Benihana.
          * Tofu sandwiches. Multiple layers of tofu and shrimp simmered, served with spinach towers and a scattering of peas. (Really pretty!)
          * Rolled beef and asparagus
          * Shrimp and Leeks with Mustard-Miso Sauce
          * Mushrooms Skewered With Pine Needs, served with Deep-fried Sardine Rafts
          * Cold buckwheat (“Fox”) Noodles, served with spinach rolls and rolled omlet. Very good, but September is a little late as this is very much a summer dish. If you’d like a menu centred on this, let me know.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Journey

            I'm loving your entire menu. Is their a website I can get the recipes from? I would like to read the ingredients and make a decision on what to make. But, for now I would want your entire menu. Can you still assist.

            Many thanks

          2. This appears to be your second-only posting and for yet another dinner party.

            Kaiseki would be painful especially if you have no experience with Japanese cuisine (I'm assuming little since you're asking for suggestions without any details).

            Yakitori (chicken) or yakiton (pork) are two relatively easy ones since people can crowd around the grill as you pull skewers for them.

            Gyoza? Wrapping and cooking 60 since a set meal serving (with rice, tsukemono and soup as sides) is 5 gyoza. You'll probably want to double since a lot of people may want to have more than 5 (and are likely going to have larger appetites).

            Temaki-zushi (cones) self-serve is another thing to consider. Nigiri and maki-zushi are going to require much more effort since you will have to form it.

            Worst-case you can always make curry.