KoJa Dinner Party

Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good meal. I'm alllls about the eating part, but occasionally, the experience of home cooking is also satisfying to me. These days, Jason cooks dinner most of the time at our house, but a few times a year I'll find an excuse to cook for a small or large group. A holiday, a birthday, a long-time-no-see-you-day, I always feel a burst of energy when I take the reins and design a menu and shop for ingredients.

Feeding a group of people who truly know how to appreciate food is satisfying to me, but also strangely motivating. Like, I want to push myself to the limit to meet and exceed their tastes. Most of the time, I try out a new recipe. Even if I'm making it for the very first time, I feel confident in the kitchen when I'm excited about a dish. Other times, I'll make a rendition of a dish I'm already familiar with (although I admit those tests don't always turn out so well).

One time, we had a foodie/photographer friend spending the night. I'd missed her birthday so I wanted to treat her to dinner. I asked her, "what do you feel like?" and she requested, "asian", and to that I laughed and said, "challenge accepted". I invited over my sister and her husband, as well, thinking they might enjoy a home cooked meal. This dinner was my play on the concept of 'kaiseki', a multi-course Japanese meal. But instead of going hella fancy, I went for a full on comfort food menu and added a Korean-influenced twist, as a nod to my husband's culture. It turned out pretty well, but next time, I'd want to incorporate more Korean ingredients and technique (e.g. pickling) to make the fusion more obvious. 

 

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toshikoshi matcha soba - a warm noodle broth, traditionally served as the first meal in the new year, made with a fish base that is popular in Korean stews, and topped with a tempura shrimp

hiyayakko + miso saba duo with kimchee - a hot & cold duo with a kick

pickled cucumber with gochujang dip - cold, crunchy and spicy

green bean shirae -  a cool side dish with a textural sesame paste

seafood pajeon - a savory pancake (store bought!)

chicken katsu - hot and crispy, drizzled with tonkatsu sauce served on a bed of japanese cabbage

bulgogi nikujagu - a potato stew, with Korean-style marinated sliced beef instead of pork

ochazuke - salmon over rice with Korean barley tea

olive oil cake and coffee jello - a dessert my mom used to serve at her restaurant, where I first learned to appreciate a good meal

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Photo credit to Marita Madeloni, the aforementioned birthday girl