The menu was quite simple at first but as the party list grew, so did meal. So in the end, I made 8 dishes and Ms. Pastry Chef made a cake. A total of 9 dishes. A lucky number! Always try to eat 8 or 9 dishes. Never 4 or 7. Silly superstitions, yes. But why not ask for more food anyway?
Some of these dishes are really easy and some very labor intensive. All in all, I can honestly say I prepped most of the food the day before, then cooked for 8 hours straight the day of. Yeah, do not attempt this meal unless you know what you doing.
First up, the Chinese leafy greens. So often that these are mistaken for Chinese broccoli. No, my friends, these are choy sum or yu choy. Much more tender and sweater than what you may know. It's also the most common vegetable that you'll find. A good wash in a tub of water to rinse out all the dirt and sand is a must. Then a quick blanche in salted boiling water. Cook until the leaves turn bright green which can be just a couple of minutes. Then drain and serve hot or at room temperature. I really enjoy added a bit of oyster sauce on top for extra flavor. But that's, of course, optional.
*Cook's note: Always use day old rice to make fried rice. You want it cold and dried out. It fries up much better.*
I don't have any recipes for any (except one) of the dishes I made. However, if you're curious about the ingredients and/or instructions of any of them, I'll be glad to draft what I can to help to replicate any part of the meal.
My Shrimp and Candied Walnut dish was adapted from this recipe:
Mayonnaise Shrimp (loosely based on the Honey Walnut Prawns recipe from About.com)
1/2 cup walnuts
1 cup sugar
1 cup oil
1 cup broccoli crowns, cut into 1" pieces
1 tablespoon oil
salt to taste
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 lb of large or medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup oil
Rinse walnuts, then boil in 5 cups water for 15 minutes. Start boiling another 2 cups of water separately. Drain and add 2 cups boiling water and sugar. Continue boiling and stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves.
In a small saucepan, heat oil until almost smoking, about 400 °F. With two slotted spoons, use the first to drain a small batch of walnuts. Carefully add to the oil and stir with the second slotted spoon. Deep fry walnuts until shiny and brown, no longer golden; this will only take a minute or two. Use the second slotted spoon to remove the walnuts from the oil and place in a heat-proof bowl lined with paper towels to drain. Continue frying walnuts in small batches. Store walnuts in an air-tight container until ready to use.