Sunday, September 13, 2009
ミシガン会＠三品んち (Michigan Party @ the Mishina's)
One thing I miss the most about American social life is house parties. No, not the cheap-bear-guzzling-packed-wall-to-wall bits of organize chaos that are the standard for college students, I'm talking more along the lines of a dinner party like proper adults (don't laugh too hard at that one). One of the problems with living in Tokyo is that most people (at least, from the early 20s demographic) don't have a home large enough to host more than 4 or 5 people at a time and, as a result, if you want to get a decent sized group together, you pretty much have to resort to going out.
Lucky for us, our friends Mamiyu and Ayumi are from the Tokyo suburbs and open their house to us on occasion. It's quite a haul to get there (it's actually in a suburb of Yokohama, which is like a suburb of Tokyo) and the last train back is quite early, so they let us crash in their living room. It's amazingly refreshing to kick back and relax with friends without having to worry about how when you have to leave in order to make it home.
Saturday night, Mamiyu, Ayumi, Yuki, Mike, Shunji, and I got together for one such party, with the game plan being that everybody would pitch in something to eat or drink potluck style. Satomi was also supposed, but it turned out that she would be coming later, once her choir practice ended. Satomi is the super cook of our group and we were all pretty much counting on her to make something awesome as the main dish, so it was a bit of a shock when she found out that she probably wouldn't be able to come until 9ish.
Faced with this monster setback to our dinner plans, we threw together a mishmash of dishes that would combine to constitute a meal. Mamiyu had already planned on making a gratin, Shunji pitched in his オムライス (pretty good stuff for a guy who pretty much never cooks!), and they also threw together a quick yakisoba. It was actually quite a solid amount of food...
Somewhere along the way it was decided that, in Satomi's absence, my dish was to be the main one. Considering I was planning on trying a dish I'd never made before, that was a good bit of pressure, but I'd put some serious thought into planning it. I'd originally wanted to do mussels (especially as I expected I would just be making an appetizer for Satomi's food), but Mamiyu had checked in advanced and said that none of the nearby stores had any. So instead I went with a recipe for Greek shrimp that had popped up a few months ago on one of the blogs I follow. It didn't look terribly difficult from a technical standpoint, though it did call for a couple ingredients that aren't so easy to find in Japan. Basil is hard to find but not impossible, mint is quite rare, and feta cheese is almost non-existant. Fortunately for me, the grocery store in the basement of the Kita Senju Marui came to the rescue again, with both types of herbs at reasonable prices and a special cheese shop that just happened to have feta (though you had to ask as it wasn't in the displays). The feta was a rather ridiculous $20/lb, but I only needed 1/4 lbs. and sometimes sacrifices must be made in the name of good food.
Garides Tourkolimano (Greek shrimp)
3/4 lbs. shrimp
3 tbs olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 red chilis (one deseeded), minced
3 medium tomatoes, diced
1.5 cups white wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon and didn't actually measure)
4 green onions (green part only), sliced
2 cups basil, ripped up
1 cup mint, roughly chopped
115 g feta cheese, chopped into small blocks
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
First, I gave the shrimp a quick shot in the pan, just until they started to turn pink, then set them aside. I added a couple solid slugs of olive oil the the pan and let the garlic and chilis get all aromatic and delicious. Next went in the tomatoes and wine, which I brought to a simmer and let be for a few minutes until the tomatoes started breaking down. Back in went the shrimp, along with the green onions, for another minute or two. The whole boatload of basil (seriously, it was a ton) and mint got dumped in next and stirred into the sauce. I tossed in the feta and gave all a good mix, though I left it for a little long and the feta melted a bit. A quick sprinkle of parsley and it was off to the table, along with some slices of crusty bread for wiping up extra sauce.
The dish was pretty straight forward to put together and got great feedback, so I'll definitely add it on my list of reliable recipes. I bought pretty good quality ingredients and it still only ran me about 2500 yen (~$25) to feed the 6 of us, which is quite reasonable. If I'd doubled the amount of shrimp it probably could have stood on it's own as a main course and would only just barely have broke 3000 yen. I'd worried that ~100g of feta wouldn't be enough, but I think it ended up being just the right amount. The only thing I think I would change next time is I'd go with just one chili or deseed both, as it was a little spicier than it needed to be.
It felt really good to turn out something that everyone liked, especially under pressure. It was also nice trying a recipe that wasn't Asian, as that's pretty much all I ever make and it's probably a good idea to round out my personal recipe list a bit. All in all, a top drawer party, so pats on the back all around!