Spring is just around the corner and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Why not plan a Asian inspired spring party? Start by bringing the season into your home by cutting a few cherry blossom branches and placing them in a tall vase with water. It will lift your spirits!
When putting this menu together I had my sister in mind, who is a single mom and works full time. So, the criteria required ingredients that are readily available, dishes that are easy to put together and allow time for her to enjoy her guests while having an Asian touch.
Spring Party Menu:
Appetizers: Edamame, Prawn Wonton and Wasabi peas
Main Course: Gyoza, Miso Talapia, Asian Salad, Rice and pickles
Desert: Green Tea Ice Cream, Strawberries and Pocky sticks
Today, I’ll just start with the Appetizers. When your guests arrive, , make them feel welcome with a drink and some Edamame and Wasabi peas, while you get ready to cook the Prawn Wonton. It gets the mood going.
If you’ve been to the Japanese restaurants in the U.S. lately, you’ll know what Edamame is because it is now readily available. In Japanese, “Eda” pronounced with an “e” like in egg means branch and “mame“, again pronounced with short vowels, means bean. So, it’s beans on a branch. Actually, the edamame is a green soybean. In Japan, they are sold fresh in the summer attached to the branch and you clip them off with scissors. However, here in the U.S., they can be found in the freezer department at your local supermarket and they even sell them at Costco now. They are sold with the beans inside the pod.
All you need to do is to place the whole pods in a pot of boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes, but it’s best to follow the package instructions because it depends on the quantity. Once boiled, drain and run cold water over the edamame to stop the cooking process, keeping the bright green color intact. Sprinkle with sea salt. When serving, place the beans in a bowl and remember to have an empty bowl next to it so your guests have a place to put their empty pods.
Wasabi is a root vegetable that is used as a condiment and is often referred to as “Japanese horseradish”. The fresh wasabi can really clear your nasal passage! In the snack department of the supermarket they carry and assortment of rice crackers and peas that have a wasabi flavor. It’s a really good munchie and a conversation starter too because people either love it or hate it.
The last starter is the wonton. The key is to find wonton wrappers. First look for wonton on the packet, not gyoza, which are potstickers, because they are used for different purposes. However, that being said, I have never used one for the other, so I really can’t say if it won’t work. Best to stick with what I know. Here’s the recipe:
Next time, we’ll feature the main course. Stay tuned.
- 1 lb. raw shelled and cleaned prawns - chopped
- ½ can water chestnuts (8 oz. can) - chopped
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon Sake- Japanese rice wine
- 1 packet wonton wrappers
- canola oil for deep frying.
- In a bowl mix the chopped prawns, water chestnuts cornstarch and sake.
- If it's rather moist, add more cornstarch.
- How to wrap:
- With one wonton wrapper in your palm, place a teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper and wet the edges with water.
- Fold in half to create a triangle or even a rectangle, whichever is easier for you. We won't get into any fancy shapes here because we are trying to keep this simple and stress free!
- Press the edges together to create a seal.
- To Cook:
- Because they are rather flat you can deep fry them in a frying pan, turning them over once so they are a nice golden brown.
- Dip in soy sauce or soy sauce with a little french mustard.