press dinner party no. 1

as last week’s planned dinner went unattended due to a big ol’ dump o’ snow, K and i invited some friends over this weekend for a casual meal.

frenz.
frenz.

i also recently took my first visit to catonsville’s H Mart, a supermarket specializing in korean goods. so we made some korean-inspired dishes to feed our friends. here is the menu:

  • pajeon (korean scallion pancakes, adapted from eatyourkimchi.com)
  • k tots (inspired by a dish served at the crown, a local favorite place, description below)
  • bibimbap with seitan bulgogi and lots of vegetables (bulgogi marinade adapted from maangchi.com)
  • adzuki bean frozen coconut cream with tahini magic shell (coconut cream base adapted from seriouseats.com)
bibimbap swag.
bibimbap swag

the format of our dinners is rather informal: we provide the food, our guests provide the libations. in this instance, there was a lot of soju, beer and cheap wine, and we broke out our collection of 1960’s orchestra pop cover albums.

k-tot mess.
k-tot mess.

as this was the first time we hosted a dinner party, i learned a lot by doing a lot of things wrong. the pajeon worked out pretty wonderfully and was a great hors d’oeuvres served with the tangy dipping sauce. i attempted to deep-fry the tots, which i have done successfully in the past, and managed to overcrowd the pot in my rush, lowering the oil temperature, which resulted in soggy, greasy, chewy tots after cooking for 15 minutes. so, if i really want to try frying anything again, i’ll have to work on my firing time and restrain my portion sizes. the bibimbap was pretty straightforward, but very labor-intensive, as each vegetable topping required individual preparation and needed to stay warm while i prepared the others. the warm oven worked pretty well to keep everything ready for serving, but i had to get rather creative with my prep bowls as this dish requires a lot of them. and, i still cannot successfully get recognizable ice cream to come out of my kitchenaid ice cream attachment. i churned the near-frozen ice cream mix for over an hour and didn’t even reach milkshake consistency. it was pretty tasty, though.

seitanic bulgogi
seitanic bulgogi

dinner parties are a good way to keep one’s social life engaging, as it requires not only the gastronomical adroitness to create a menu that many kinds of people, vegan or not, may enjoy, but it also provides one with the opportunity to reach out to friends and acquaintances that don’t often get included in weekend plans perhaps because they aren’t as close as the regular buds or they have an aversion to public places. because who, lack of familiarity or agoraphobia notwithstanding, can say no to a free home-cooked meal?

taiwanese spinach
taiwanese spinach

due to the nature of the dishes served, i do not have many recipes to report. here, however, are some to be incorporated into your next plant-based korean dinner party:

gochujang mayo 

for every 1 cup mayonnaise, stir in 1 tbl gochujang, a korean fermented chili and soy paste. or if making fresh mayo, add the gochujang to the curdling soymilk and blend before drizzling in oil. this condiment is a key ingredient in k-tots, and is absolutely delicious on just about anything that could use something creamy, rich and a little spicy. this is also leagues beyond sriracha mayo in depth of flavor, due to the miso-like sweetness and richness of the fermented paste.

bibimbap
bibimbap

bibimbap

bibimbap translates to mixed rice, so i took that as my cue to make a lot of different sautéed vegetables for people to put atop a bowl of rice. i minced a bulb of garlic, a 2-inch piece of ginger an a shallot and kept that as an aromatic mixture to add to each vegetable which i sautéed with a bit of oil, light soy sauce and rice vinegar. i sautéed:

daikon radish, cut into batons
taiwanese spinach, trimmed
hua gu shiitake mushrooms, sliced
japanese eggplant, cut into batons
carrots, julienned
enoki mushrooms, fresh
pea shoots, fresh
seitan strips, marinated in bulgogi sauce

pile it on a bowl with some steamed white rice, douse in sriracha and stir it up!

tahini magic shell

if you are like me and prefer to have your ice cream with a swath of something creamy, nutty and salty, here is a quick alternative to peanut butter.

1/2 c tahini
1 tbl coconut oil, melted
pinch salt
pinch lime zest

 mix all ingredients and keep in a cool, but not cold, place. drizzle on ice cream and watch the coconut oil do its magic.

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