By Stacy Nguyen and Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
1. Jazzed-up leftovers
Let’s face it. We gain weight during the holidays because there are too many leftovers. So why not share the wealth (and calories) by throwing a leftover party on Dec. 26?
How about making a casserole from your turkeys and veggies? Why not stir-fry these goodies with udon? My leftovers from Christmas dinner always make the best fried rice. My prime rib ends up in the most delicious steak sandwiches. My baked potatoes are used to make yummy potato pancakes.
2. A civilized tea party
If you don’t want to bombard your guests with a heavy meal, why not throw a tea party with Asian-inspired desserts? Think fortune cookies, mini mooncakes, and egg tarts.
3. The kegger
Asian food has been exalted for years now; however, often overlooked are Asian alcohols. For that New Years party, why not base your theme on Asian spirits? Consider different varieties of Korean plum wine or Japanese sake. And for beer drinkers, don’t forget brands like Kirin, Tsingtao, Sapporo, Tiger, and Kingfisher.
4. For herbivores
Maybe you’re watching what you eat. Or maybe you just don’t like eating meat. If that’s the case, there are many Asian dishes to accommodate you. Due to Buddhist influence, some cuisines from China and Vietnam that are strictly vegetarian. The foods of India also have a rich vegetarian history. Branch out beyond the spinach and green beans this holiday.
5. For carnivores
If you swing the other way (meat lovers, unite!), then why not have a party that’s all about meat? Your guests may leave your house loosening their belts, but it will be worth it. Consider different kinds of marinated meats on skewers or meatballs. And don’t forget poultry — the perfect Peking duck is always the star of a meal.
6. Dim sum your party
Why not throw a dim sum party? It’s convenient, and you don’t have to wash dishes. Dim sum restaurants are all over the Greater Seattle area. The best things about dim sum restaurants are that don’t have to make reservations and you can dig in right away once you are inside.
If you really want to have a dim sum party at home, don’t make the dim sum yourself. Making dim sum is too labor intensive.
Instead, do take out. You can get some dim sum pieces for as little as 50 cents. Some of the popular dim sum restaurants are Tea Garden on Rainier Avenue, Jade Garden, House of Hong, Sun Ya, Ocean City, Honey Court, Duk Li, New Hong Kong Seafood, and Harbor City in Chinatown, and Tea Palace in Renton.
7. A sushi-fied affair
Having a sushi party is a great way to introduce sushi novices to the delicate flavors of this cuisine. It is also a great way to push the limits of raw-fish consumption with the pros. Sushi is not extremely difficult to prepare — the key is having fresh fish, not necessarily having perfect sushi-making skills.
But if you’re in a time crunch, you can also buy sushi platters at Asian grocery stores.
Just don’t forget to keep it on ice!
8. An international potluck
Potlucks are a great way to divide up the tasks, so that one person isn’t stuck slaving in the kitchen all day. Potlucks are a good way to experience different kinds of foods. Why not host an international potluck and have everyone bring a dish representing their culture?
9. Pick a country, any country
If you have little kids, basing a party on a particular country can be an educational experience. If you’re Chinese, perhaps throw a Thai party. Read up on Thai ingredients and try to replicate a well-known dish. It’s also not a bad idea to brush up on Thai dinner etiquette. It’ll be a good icebreaker for your guests.
10. How hot can you go?
Are you the kind of person who opts for five stars at Indian restaurants? Do you find sweating as you eat to be cathartic? Then a spicy dinner party may suit your style. Gather up your dare-devil friends and go pedal-to-the-medal with the scorching flavors of Thai, Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, or Middle Eastern cuisines. Be sure to keep a cool glass of milk handy. ♦
Stacy Nguyen and Assunta Ng can be reached at email@example.com.