Once in a while an idea goes beyond good and ventures into genius. Such was the case when a few of food fanatical friends and I decided to put together a Southeast Asian fete.
The plan was such: Meet up in Brooklyn's Chinatown one Saturday morning for dim sum at Pacificana and then go food shopping for ingredients along Sunset Park's 8th Avenue. Following the grocery gauntlet, we'd hightail it back to my apartment to cook en masse.
As soon as we had set a date, the recipe search began in earnest. Several of Chef Andy Ricker's recipes were under consideration in order to add a little Pok Pok into the proceedings, but none of us could resist checking out SheSimmers and a couple of Singaporean food sites as well.
Finally, after weeks of planning, the day arrived. Emi, Jim, Max and I hit Sunset Park with high expectations.
Happily, those expectations were well met at Pacificana. Dim sum was glorious -- if not a bit gluttonous. (More Har Gow please!)
After the last bit of Fried Radish Cake was demolished, we left the table and descended upon New York Mart with a vengeance. To give you a taste, pictured above is just one of many overstuffed baskets from our shopping spree.
Weighted down with bags of groceries, we grabbed the subway, jockeyed past a woman who almost impaled us with a scabbard and antler horns (don't ask) and made our way to my apartment to unload bags and bags of duck meat, holy basil, wonton wrappers, cilantro, garlic, napa cabbage, soy sauce, fresh ginger and so much more. Within moments I'd cracked open a few beers for the team and my pal Emi cracked open her recipe journal...
... and started to make homemade Chinese dumplings...
She wasn't alone in the kitchen for long. Minutes later, Chad, Sandra and Ori arrived, with even more ingredients in tow. Soon the phrase "too many cooks in the kitchen" was laid to rest, as chopping, stewing and steaming began. It was a whirling dervish of culinary craziness, as my small kitchen became home to five cooks and two sous chef volunteers.
We downed it all with a round of Kaffir Lime Leaf-infused Gin & Tonics, capping off dinner with homemade Coconut-Pandan Ice Cream made by yours truly.
Let me just say that at the meal's end, we weren't just sated, we were giddy with pleasure. (OK, maybe the G&T's helped a bit there too!)