Saturday, October 27, 2007

a japanese birthday party

After a brief (but busy!) absence, we are pleased to return to our blog, to keep you updated on the events and activities that orenji catering has been a part of... in the coming weeks, you will hear about some delightful celebratory desserts, some formal plated events, and a flashback to an springtime Easter gathering. Orenji on the road takes you to the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival and visits Sprinkles Cupcakes in Los Angeles. Orenji Culture reviews one of the latest Cirque du Soleil touring productions, Corteo. And we explore the ancient Japanese art of candy making.

But first, we look at an event that orenji catering recently had the pleasure of preparing-- a Japanese birthday party.

Omedetou tanjoubi!
お目でと 誕生日!
(Happy Birthday!)

The birthday event showcased many Japanese foods, prepared in classic styles, with fresh local ingredients and fish. Accompanying the cuisine was a selection of imported Japanese drinks, beer, and our homemade shu (see previous post) in various flavors-- plum (ume), lemon, grapefruit, Asian pear, ginger, pineapple, and cherry. The fruit floating the clear shu vessels created a beautiful backdrop to the cuisine.

Among the foods prepared were pea shoots with sesame, miso-broiled eggplant, and ponzu marinated and grilled shrimp with asparagus.
Miso poached kabocha squash and okonomiyaki are pictured below. Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) is a pan-fried Japanese pancake cooked with various vegetable, meat, and fish ingredients. Okonomi literally means "what you like" or "what you want", and yaki means "grilled" or "cooked"; thus, the name means "cook what you like, the way you like". The okonomiyaki we made for the party was in the Kansai-style: a pan-fried batter cake. The batter was made of flour, grated yam, dashi (fish broth), eggs and shredded cabbage, green onions, and pork and squid.
One of the highlights of the Japanese-themed buffet was a lobster delicately poached in a sweet broth of sake, dashi, miso, and watercress. Earthly shiitake mushrooms and pungent green onions complimented the natural sweetness of the lobster meat.

Grilled vegetables wrapped in smokey bacon, marinated in a pungent fruit-based sauce, and grilled were reminiscent of the yakitori bars found throughout Japan.

Beef negimaki-- thin marinated slices of beef tenderloin wrapped around asparagus, and broiled to perfection:

A delicious assortment of freshly rolled sushi-- including shrimp, octopus, unagi (broiled eel), tamago (egg omelet), salmon, tuna, mackerel, and flying fish roe was as colorful as it was delicious.

Other dishes served included handmade pan-braised gyoza (pork dumplings, pictured top left), shiso-infused rice, inari sushi (rice in sweet tofu casings, pictured center), toro (fatty tuna belly) sashimi (pictured bottom, center), and cold-pressed tofu with scallions and fresh ginger (pictured bottom, center).

Japanese beverages, beers, and iced matcha (green tea) were presented alongside birthday party favors for the guests to take home. A continuous display of photographs we took on our various trips to Japan played throughout the evening.

All in all, it was a beautiful evening, filled with good food and drink, lovely atmosphere, and great party-goers. It was a birthday to remember!

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