Wherever we’ve lived, we’ve become known among friends for elaborate, fancy dinners (but bring your own chairs). The shindigs serve multiple purposes: it’s fun to play restaurant and we love the occasions to cook together; they allow us to work out and organize into a menu the many random ideas we’ve collected; they let us hang out with our friends and provides us with, in the form of those selfsame friends, guinea pigs to test newest creations on.
This dinner was no different. Taking advantage of Lamp’s rare long visit to the bay area, we decided to hold a dinner with 4 originally planned courses that ballooned to 12 by the time our guests arrived. The menu was a mix of repeats of past successes (roasted salted kumquat quails, sake kasu marinated cod, forbidden rice amazake), brand new creations (bossam-inspired oysters, mackerel braised in green/barley tea, duck dishes, etc.), and cookbook recipe (tomato soup with yuba cream). The dishes were rooted in Vietnamese, Korean, and Japanese cuisines but each had a twist marking them as a product of our kitchen. We took care with each dish to provide a different view, one that incorporated new ingredients available in a modern multicultural society, without obscuring the unique characteristics that made the traditional version so appealing.
We were especially very excited that our crazy idea for bossam-inspired oysters worked out so well. The idea for this dish had been endlessly brainstormed and sketched out for about 6 months before we got the ingredients together for v1.0 – and tested it out right away. Modernist techniques and traditional Mediterranean ham replaced key bossam ingredients but reconstituted the distinctive flavor combination and preserved the tactile fun of making your own roll.
Another dish that blew us away was the tomato soup with yuba cream intermezzo. The recipe piqued our curiosity due to the unusual flavor combinations and now we are smitten with the possibilities of yuba cream in other dishes.
Home-cooking staples were not immune from our tweaking either. Cá thu kho trà (caramelized braised fish with tea) received a fragrant addition in the barley tea version and a crispy charred tea leaves crust green tea version. Vịt nấu chao (fermented bean curd marinated duck hot pot) was experimented in 2 different ways and showed us more possibilities for tofu misozuke. Recipes to come soon.
Other dishes also worked out well. We appreciated the positive feedback from our friends and we will post more about individual dishes from this dinner. You don’t just have to take our words for it, either: Mai @ FlavorBoulevard wrote up her dinner experience and posted more photos of the dinner.