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Our darling girl Stephanie is back from traveling and had a window available for a couple of days to come by for dinner, as well as to bring along her latest…friend with whom things seem to be going smashingly, and we look forward to meeting him (we also desperately miss our son, Jake, living and working in So Cal but we can’t have everything). Steph’s friend is apparently quite the cook, she reports, and I wonder if I’m pulling out some stops to impress him more than our usual dinner guests. Well, don’t know, but anything that presses me to up my cooking game a bit isn’t a bad thing.

Our lovely niece, Ella, also plans to attend coming over from SF after attending the Outsidelands Festival in Golden Gate Park. A & B are able to attend as well, so it will mean a big ol’ group of seven people in our tiny kitchen (though update: Ella was unable to attend, alas).

Six people! I haven’t served that many people at one time yet, but because of work scheduling conflicting with my regular days off, I found I had less time to prepare for this dinner–and would be working my day job all day on Sunday till only an hour or so before the event! I would have to prepare everything a couple of days before, so when Angela came up with the idea of cooking Korean cuisine, I didn’t skip a beat but dumped the Swedish dinner idea as well as whatever other idea that had been percolating.

Alas, there’s something about Korean banchan that just grabs my interest. Typically Korean banchan are all presented at the same time, along with whatever the main course might be, whether fish or foul or beast. All are meant to be eaten together, eaten with rice and with all guests reaching across the table, helping themselves family style.

Which eliminates the problem of individual plating, thank god.

BUT…if you thought I was going to stop with just 12 or 13 dishes like the last time, you thunk wrong. And the time before that…my first adventure with bibimbap, I made nine dishes.

18 dishes. Most of these will be completed by Saturday evening, ably standing up to refrigeration in the short term, and I am excited to present these to our guests. There may be more items, or possibly one less, but the former is more likely than the latter. I even was able to contact an online Korean cuisine blogger who confirmed that most of my premade dishes would be fine in the refrigerator for a day or two, with one or two notable exceptions that should be put together at the last minute. Whew! He responded even though he was traveling through South America at the time.

Here is the current menu (subject to change as the cook panics or realizes how little time he has left):

-Cucumber Canapé
-Soy-Glazed Shiitakes
-Pajeon
-Gaji Namul
-Kongjang
-Doljaban Muchim
-Musaengchee
-Gamja Jorim
-Bulgogi
-Miso Soup
-Rice
-Sautéed Zucchini
-Gochujang Date Sauce
-Pickled Radish
-Garlicky Spinach
-Mulchi
-Goguma Mattang
-Shishito Peppers with a spicy sauce
-Banh Chuoi Nuong-Xuan Hong
-Special Coconut Ice Cream
-Racines Chocolate Cake (yah, don’t ask)

Oh, what? You don’t know what half that #%$&@ is? Well, that isn’t my problem, but if you’re inclined to google any of that Korean above, be my Internet guest. You’ll also discover which item is not Korean (but it’s fairly obvious).

So, spent most of Friday preparing dishes and packing them away in the fridge, interspersed with bike trips to Tokyo Fish Market, breaks to local cafes to try to relax on my one, official day off this week, but now at Friday 1025pm, I’m pretty much done in. Work tomorrow at 8am and still have the cucumber canapés, scallion pancakes, sweet potato, garlicky spinach, seasoned eggplant, and two desserts to put together tomorrow night.

Saturday came and went and in the evening, I still had a few items to put together. Banana pudding, special ice cream, an eggplant dish, and prepping the meat for the bulgogi. All went fairly swimmingly save for the ice cream where I took a misstep and had to start all over and wait 15 hours for the freezer bowl to be ready again. The meat marinade was relatively quick and the eggplant dish only ten minutes.

The next day, the big day of the bash, I only had to prepare two dipping sauces, steam the dumplings, cook the meat, make the cucumber canapés, and…hell, can’t remember. But all in about 90 minutes.

The meal went fabulously with only two glitches; the ice cream came out…not sweet. A little too crystally and…no sweetness. I quickly realized that the only difference was the coconut cream I used which, as it had been made in Mexico and described in Spanish, was probably just coconut milk. So…no sweet aspect.

The other problem? The rice cooker hadn’t been turned on! So the rice was 20 minutes late. I put the cooked meat into the oven on low heat to keep warm and people began to munch on the various banchan.

As for dessert, with both a chocolate cake and the banana pudding, I wasn’t too put out, and as it turned out, there was plenty enough leftovers for three of our guests to take home goody bags.

A delicious meal, even if I do say so myself. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it, but if they liked the ice cream, they were just being polite IMHO.

Take a look at the pics below courtesy of Astrid Barros!

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