Chinese dinner tonight for friends. I guess I’m just crazy enough to make Chinese food for Chinese guests, but I figure they’d appreciate the gesture as I do when someone serves me up some Eisbein that is less than echt. I made a couple of my favorite Shanghai-style dishes: lion’s head meatballs, which are first fried and then braised in cabbage leaves, and pork belly braised in wine, soy sauce, ginger and rock sugar. For some reason I also served up kare-kare, a Filipino dish of tripe and oxtails laced with annatto oil and peanut butter, just for some contrast. It’s generally a bad idea to cook something you never made before when company calls, but I saw this in Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet on our Immigrant Ancestors (1990), and wanted to give it a go. I love kare-kare, but you can’t eat too much in one sitting or you’ll feel like killing yourself.
Yes, I know this meal was too heavy in sum total, and I should have had a veggie or fish dish to round it all out, but we wanted to go for broke. I didn’t even mention the potato Kugel with blood pudding dip – which sent this nothing-really-goes-together meal into depraved territory. Yes, yes, I know Jeff Smith has been accused of terrible things and I should never use his cookbooks because that would go against the wishes of the powers that be – essentially to wipe his memory off the face of the earth, but I have no intention of stopping. His cookbooks are pretty good. Rip off my arms and legs if you want to.