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Our not-so-recent dinner menu (oysters & quails & mackerel & ducks! oh my!)

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.

Mackerel braised in barley tea

But wait, there’s more!


Bossam-inspired oysters

Lamp and I love bossam: the succulent, juicy and flavorful pork is complemented by the aromatic sesame leaf, briny oysters, sweet kimchi and salty fermented shrimps. Being so much in love with the dish, I couldn’t stop thinking about the disparate components and how well they combine together. I was particularly intrigued by the contribution of raw oysters to the overall experience of bossam and decided to make oysters the focus of our homage to bossam. Most of the flavors and spices of bossam were included in this recipe but with oysters providing juiciness and succulence, boiled pork belly was replaced with prosciutto.

Bossam-inspired oysters & prosciutto (photo courtesy of Mai @ FlavorBoulevard)

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Holiday meals 2010-2011

New post on new dishes soon, but for now please enjoy these pictures.

This year marked the first time we cooked holiday dinners for both sets of parents. Bird’s mom was so excited about the new dishes that she refused to stand by and watch. She ran amuck in the kitchen instead. My mom said she’s never had such a relaxing holiday, and we were “contracted to cater” my parents’ Tet dinner.


Our travelling kitchen, brought to Houston for Thanksgiving

Mozzarella Balloon floating in a bowl of clarified tomato juice.

Ceviche (gỏi cá kiểu Nam Mỹ), Grapefruit salad (gỏi bưởi) and Vegetarian steak tartare.

Bún Thang (Thang noodle soup) ingredients artfully arranged by Bird's mom

Watermelon infused with spices on top of fermented glutinous sweet rice (cơm rượu)

Not shown: Vịt Tiềm Bí, Pineapple and Tomato Dessert


Pictures coming: Christmas Eve Dinner

Christmas Day dinner:

Salt steamed chicken (gà hấp muối), Duck tataki, and Bossam

Lẩu Thái / Tom Yum hot pot

Back in Ann Arbor w/ leftover ingredients:

Banana Blossom and Duck Salad (served with Duck Congee) (gỏi vịt bắp chuối & cháo)