Chinese New Year party for 20+

I love to cook, but have never done it on a large scale. I felt a bit overwhelmed and just decided to buy a bunch of stuff from Costco... Please don't judge!

Questions:
What do you do to food prep for large parties in general?
I think I would like to make a single dish, and make it well. I'm thinking a noodle dish. Any recipes that are easy to make on a large scale? Cold, room temp, hot all welcome.

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scruz
scruz February 5, 2016

be prepared to do a lot of internet research. concentrate on your one dish and look up several versions of it. write them all down, preferably on one sheet to compare them. i try to choose recipes starting with the same quantity of the main ingredient so that if you do try to combine several recipes, your ratio will be the same or similar. write the recipe down and the time for each step. it will help your timing so that it is done when you plan to serve...you can then count backwards for all of your steps. i would suggest you do a practice run, if possible with a smaller quantity, to taste test the flavors and see how it comes out, i used a steno pad so that i could keep all of my notes together. make sure you have all of the ingredients. make sure you think of some attractive garnishes to make your serving dish(s) attractive and make sure you have sufficient serving dish(s) and utensils. that's how i would approach. i'll be interested to learn with you reading other comments. good luck and costco has some great ingredients. plan you table scape too.

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AmazelChef
AmazelChef February 5, 2016

I'm actually prepping for Chinese New Year as well, though not for 20 people. I agree with Scruz as far as prepping. Usually I have all my recipes I need in one location, either written or on you're laptop/tablet for easy scrolling and what not. I also like to put them in the order I will be making them. That way something that's hot and easy to make won't be sitting there getting cold before serving.

As far as a simple noodle dish to make, why not make the traditional "Jai" dish? I'm not sure exactly what it's called in English, but if you look up "Buddha's Delight" it brings up something similar.

You can also make Wonton Noodle Soup if you want something less stir fry and more "soup-y".

I like to visit http://steamykitchen.com/ for recipes whenever I'm in a rut. Hope this helps! And Happy New Year, may the new year bring you fortune and good health.

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Nancy
Nancy February 5, 2016

In keeping with the noodles idea (to wish long life), are there dishes you have already mastered that could are usually or could be served with noodles?
That way, you are building on your strengths for the one dish you cook for your guests.
And then surround it with fun stuff, garnishes, sides from Costco.

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Nancy
Nancy February 5, 2016

sorry - the double messaging was unintentional tech glitch.

Nancy
Nancy February 5, 2016

In keeping with the noodles idea (to wish long life), are there dishes you have already mastered that could are usually or could be served with noodles?
That way, you are building on your strengths for the one dish you cook for your guests.
And then surround it with fun stuff, garnishes, sides from Costco.

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Matilda Luk
Matilda Luk February 5, 2016

My mother never made a ton of stuff for our family new year celebration when I was growing up, so making all that food yourself isn't really that important. She would buy the poached chicken and roast pork from the Asian grocery store but cook the vegetables herself. You could do noodles, although you may have to do it in batches (and I find noodles hard to scale up). An easy thing to do would be a braised dish like Shanghai red braised pork so you could scale up easily, make it ahead and reheat before serving to make it easy on yourself.

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Garlic Fiend
Garlic Fiend February 5, 2016

I find noodles hard to scale up because you would have to make them in batches. I used to cook for 60 for Chinese New Year every year. I would make tons of dumplings/gyoza (the "one thing that I scaled up" that you can also buy frozen) that I boiled/steamed during the party. In addition to that, I would have fried rice, fried noodles, and Chinese roasted meats that I either made ahead and/or purchased. So about 6 cups of rice & noodles, and maybe 2 ducks and a pound or two of roast pork.

It is also a great idea to make it a potluck to alleviate the burden.

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scruz
scruz February 5, 2016

i just had this for dinner and thought it might be useful. i made a big pot of beef stock with a thick roast cut in pieces, boiled first for 5 mins, water dumped and cleaned pot and meat. started with new water (this makes for a clearer, cleaner broth) and simmered meat until tender. for dinner, boiled some chinese noodles and placed in bottom with broth over and in sections put shredded beef, barely cooked thin sliceds of celery, onions, cabbage and mushrooms cooked separately and kept divided. time for serving? heated broth with beef and then to bowl with noodles, arranged veggies around. you could assembly line out bowls of noodle soup with meats and veggies arranged on top pretty quickly at serving time. just a thought.

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Voted the Best Reply!

702551
702551 February 6, 2016

First advice: keep it simple and make dishes that leverage your particular kitchen skills. You are on the right track by focusing a fewer dishes and doing them well, rather than have huge variety of dishes, many of which might be executed on a mediocre level.

There was a Thanksgiving post-mortem thread the week after that holiday, and many who commented said that they need to pare back the number of dishes they put out and stick to classics or things they know they can nail.

I have no specific recipes or dish recommendations, but for feeding a larger group, you will need to look at your resources (prep tools, pans, storage space, cooking appliances) and realistically form an idea of what can happen in your kitchen. Got a propane-fired BBQ grill? Great, you have extra cooking space. No grill, two-burner stove? Well, your options are curtailed.

Typically dishes that are fed to large groups are things that can be cooked in large quantities and maintain quality for some time after cooking. Do you want to make tourné potatoes for twenty or is it easier to make mashed potatoes? Sauté individual beef medallions or make beef stew? Stuff like that.

Many of these decisions will hinge on a unique combination of your skill set, your resources and your interest: time, money, cooking facilities, hardware (prep bowls, large pots), and storage. Do you want to stay up to 2am making handmade dumplings or will you punt and just cook up some noodles from a refrigerator case? And even if you make enough dumplings for 20 people, where will you store them?

If you have already cooked for groups of 6-8 people multiple times, you should be gaining enough experience to know what's scalable and what's not. Chinese chicken salad for 2-4? Okay, maybe you will roast the chicken yourself. For eight? If you have a full-sized oven, maybe you can pull off cooking two chickens, but hey, those rotisserie chickens at the deli counter look like they might work.

Whenever you go above about eight diners, you need to carefully consider your assets: time, space, storage. This is a judgment call based on your specific situation, something no one here can decide for you because we don't know what you have in the way of resources (including number of kitchen helpers and skill level) and what your skill set/timeframe/budget is.

In a restaurant, a party of twenty might be: "Okay, we have some banquet recipes, we have a bunch of sheet pans, we'll load them all up in Lexans and hotel pans -- including mise en place -- on the speedrack, roll it into the walk-in fridge tonight and done, ready for tomorrow's service."

Some might suggest cooking some food in advance and freezing it, but it would appear that the event is too close for this strategy.

Anyhow, best of luck.

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Sam1148
Sam1148 February 6, 2016

This tastes great if you get over the fact it's ramen noodle based. Uncooked noodles crumbled with a sweet vinegar dressing some almond slivers and cabbage and carrots. http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/ridiculously-amazing-asian-ramen-salad/
Ideally it should be made the day before.
That will free you up for making some hot dishes that day.
Like steamed ribs http://steamykitchen.com/203-chinese-steamed-spareribs-with-black-bean-sauce.html

You could also make lettuce cups. Just prep a couple of heads of lettuce the night before and have all the stuff for a stir fired filling preped and ready to go. That could do double duty for vegans if you leave out the meat and use another pan for cooking a batch.

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Sam1148
Sam1148 February 6, 2016

Humm... That recipe for the noodles isn't quite the one I use. I add a bit of the packet seasonings and finish with some sesame oil. Google around for other variation. I think most will be impressed that it is Ramen noodle based because I was the first time I had it.

Kirthana | Theblurrylime

Hi! I always make this dish when I entertain and have many hungry people to feed - it can be made in advance and reheats very well. Looks very fancy too, with all the toppings!

http://www.theblurrylime.com/appetizers/a-taste-of-burma-chicken-khow-suey/

Another go-to :
http://www.theblurrylime.com/main-course/stir-fried-rice-noodles-with-minced-pork-and-black-bean/

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