Each summer I throw a party and this year I’m planning to make things interesting with an Asian twist!
Here’s a plan full of prep and recipes ideas, so you can get creative, too.
How do I kick things off and begin inviting friends? I might start with clever invitations to build excitement. I’ll buy or bake fortune cookies with “Save the Date” messages and send them in a Chinese takeout container. Or maybe I’ll wrap an invitation around chopsticks and slip them in an envelope.
When I plan a party, I like to connect my friends with one another. I try to introduce people who may be strangers but would benefit from meeting one another, like those who work in the same field or love to cook. It keeps the conversation lively!
I’ll try dividing couples and ask one half to serve wine, select music and man the grill. I’ll ask the other half to help plate and serve. Working together makes it more fun and is a natural ice-breaker.
Mastering the techniques used in Asian cuisine can speed up the prep process for you.
- Mango: Slice mango in half around the seed in the center. Score the flesh with a knife and invert the fruit so the cut fruit looks like a porcupine. Cut the fruit cubes away from the skin with the tip of a knife.
- Basil: Stack and roll the leaves, slicing across into ribbons.
- Garlic: Smash garlic with a bench scraper or a heavy can of vegetables and remove the peel, then smash it again hard. This action does the mincing for you.
- Ginger: Grate ginger (with skin) on the wide holes of a box grater. Squeeze the grated pulp to extract the liquid. Use the same amount of liquid as is called for in chopped ginger.
Put an Asian twist on your favorites with flavors and ingredients from that region. Or, mix and match to create your barbecue menu from the ideas below.
- Shiitake egg rolls with sake dipping sauce
- Barbecued oysters with rice wine mignonette
- Barbecued chicken wings
- Crab Pot Stickers with Honey-Soy Dipping Sauce
- Lettuce Cups with Gingery Pork and Shiitake Mushrooms
- Five-spice chicken thighs
- Hoisin-glazed salmon
- Soy-marinated Flank Steak with Cilantro-Sesame Pesto
- Honey garlic barbecue spare ribs
- Five-spice beef ribs
- Chinese slaw with rice vinegar dressing & toasted sesame seeds
- Spicy Broccolini with Garlic
- Mandarin orange salad with cashews and fried wonton strips
- Salad with Asian pears and cashews
- Sesame noodles with orange chili oil
- Fried rice with broccoli and egg
- Barbecue sauce over drumsticks and ribs
- Quick and Easy Asian Burgers
- Chicken wings with hoisin sauce
- Coconut butter cake with mango blueberry compote
- Wonton Napoleons with custard and fresh berries
- Plum ginger shaved ice
- Fortune cookies
For an adults-only affair, try flavorful and exotic cocktails.
- Lycheetinis (lychee martinis)
- Tsingtao (Chinese beer)
- Mango-Ginger Iced Tea
- Ginger mandarin champagne cocktails
- Plum wine sangria with tropical fruits
- Oolong tea with sake
- Pineapple spritzers
Steal a trick from Chinese restaurants and create scallion flower garnishes.
1. Wash a scallion and slice the root end off of it.
2. Slice through the scallion about a half-inch up in several places.
3. Plunge the scallion into ice water.
4. Watch the leaves curl up into the shape of a bloom.
I love to create arrangements of beautiful Asian flowers such as narcissus and orchids. I place them in bamboo vases around the yard for an exotic display. I plan to cover the table in Chinese newspapers and use red napkins, plates and glasses.
Try some of these simple recipes for a quick and delicious weekday lunch.
- Slice leftover grilled chicken and serve it over greens, mandarin oranges, cashews and won ton strips for a healthy and satisfying Chinese chicken salad. For dressing, shake together orange juice, lime juice, sesame oil, ginger, salt, pepper.
- Reserve some marinated flank steak for a hearty sandwich – try it with pesto.
- Follow the lead of the Chinese by shredding leftover beef or pork ribs into a noodle dish.
- Make fried rice with leftover grilled vegetables and any meat you have on hand. Use leftover rice; in a wok or hot skillet, cook scallions and garlic in some oil; add rice, veggies and soy or hoisin sauce. Cook for a few minutes, push to the side, crack an egg or two and cook, working the egg into the rice.
Conduct a test run on your grill to make sure everything is running smoothly. If it’s gas, turn it on and run it for five minutes – and always keep an extra tank of propane nearby. If you use charcoal, be sure you have plenty of briquettes and lighter fluid.
Meat should always be placed on a hot grill, so preheat the grill before your guests arrive. Keep a table near the grill with foil, matches, lighter, brushes and serving platters.
How do you plan to put a twist on your summer backyard parties?