Fast Asian feast: how to please another teenager
April and May are big birthday months in our extended family. I have at least 5 dates to remember in April, including my own. May is no less busy, with 4 occasions to celebrate. Starting with Anne’s birthday last week. As usual, she had 2 feasts: one on the actual birthday, with the family and another on the friday night with her friends. Turning 14 means she’s now a teenager, with well asserted tastes. Traditionally she has always joined the other kids ( and grand-kids) in requesting KFC for her birthday family feast. Not this year. Our youngest child, taking a leaf out of her older brother’s book, declared she was over fried chicken (gasp!!) and her favourite food was sushi and thai noodles!
This was actually music to my ears, not only because I knew everyone else has a fondness for asian food as well but it would make catering a whole lot easier.
The family feast was a tuesday night, and with 16 guests coming over straight from work and after school activities, I wondered how on earth to prepare enough sushis and stir fry pad- see- iew, without spending all day in the kitchen! So after some research ( read, tasting of our local asian restaurants) I took the easy and convenient option to order takeaway. At least for the main components: Caringbah Sushi delivered 3 big trays of sushi and sashimi, Chili Blossom did the same with enough coconut rice and noodles to feed a football team, while I picked up the Maltesers ice cream cake from Cronulla’s Cold Rock Ice Creamery ( Anne’s request ). Knowing I had the essentials covered, it gave me plenty of time to cook the extras: baked teriyaki chicken wings, salt and pepper pork belly and spinach sesame salad. To keep with the “quick and easy “ theme, these dishes were adapted from a book from Adam Liaw’s “Asian After Work”, which was given to me by my step-son Mal a while ago. I have plenty of Asian cookbooks already, but I find that this one lives up to its title, and indeed with the help of a well stocked fridge and pantry, we’ve enjoyed fast asian food quite often! I am pleased to report that EVERYONE loved our asian feast, the grand-kids devoured the sushis ( well, the ones with no cucumber, avocado or raw fish!) and the coconut rice, without mentioning the ice cream cake which I decorated with extra Oreo biscuits, because it looked a little bare otherwise.
As for the friends party on the friday night, it was the occasion for more takeaway, with Anne’s second favourite food: pizzas and ice cream buffet!
Ahhh, to be 14 again…
Baked Teryiaki Chicken wings
This is inspired by Adam Liaw’s Nagoya-style chicken wings recipe where the food is coated in corn flour and deep-fried first, then plunged straight into the warm teriyaki glaze. I reversed the process, marinating the wings in cold teriyaki sauce for a while then draining them and coating them in sweet potato starch before baking them. This resulted in a light crunch and lots of flavour. I also like how you can marinate the food in advance, and slide it in the oven before your guests arrive leaving you time to enjoy a cocktail with them!
Serves 4 as a main, 8-10 as part of a buffet
2 kg chicken wings ( about 16 wings )
2 cups Teriyaki sauce ( store bought is ok)
1 tsp caster sugar
1 cup sweet potato starch
Coconut oil spray
- In a large bowl, mix chicken wings, sugar and Teriyaki sauce. Marinate for at least 1 hour, in the fridge.
- When ready to cook, pre-heat oven to 220C. Drain the wings, discard the marinade.
- Tip the sweet potato starch in a large zip-loc bag, working in batches, toss 4-5 wings inside the bag, close the zip and shake the bag well to coat the wings. Place the wings on a baking tray, lined with parchment paper. Spray lightly with coconut oil. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
- Bake in the oven for 35 minutes, reducing the temperature to 180C after 15 minutes.
Serve seasoned with black pepper and scattered with toasted sesame seeds on top.
Spinach and Sesame salad
This is a classic in our house. It takes minutes to prepare, and the dressing is so versatile I keep a big jar in the fridge to use with all kinds of Asian foods.
Serves 4-6, as a side
280g baby spinach leaves
2 Lebanese cucumbers, peeled and sliced thinly
6 shallots, trimmed and sliced thinly
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
4 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp sesame oil
- For the dressing: combine the shallots, soy sauce, sugar, rice vinegar, sesame seeds and sesame oil in a jar. Shake well to dissolve the sugar and set aside.
- Toss the baby spinach and cucumber in a serving plate, pour the dressing over and serve immediately.