The bay area is full of adventurous diners and Feastly is a website that connects aspiring chefs with enthusiastic eaters who can enjoy awesome meals served in the cook’s home. After my first Feastly feast that you can read about here, my friend Brenda who writes Bites and Bourbon and I have been following a Malaysian chef Tracy whose Instagram feed makes us drool. We signed up as soon as we read about her elaborate 8-course Chinese-Malaysian feast in celebration of the Lunar New Year, and were able to take advantage of an online discount through Gilt City which made it even better!
This is Tracy, our gracious hostess who was cooking up a storm in her cozy kitchen. She has a solo operation and was quite busy during the multi-course meal. She grew up celebrating the Lunar New Year with local and regional Chinese dishes prepared by the matriarchs in her family that she shared with us. She is totally self taught and several of the dishes were prepared using the modern sous vide method in her Nomiku immersion circulator, which she says makes life so much easier when cooking a big feast.
Me, Mr. K, Brenda and her husband Patrick comprised half of the table, and the other 5 guests were fellow food lovers who are not afraid of going to a complete strangers home for a meal and sharing it at a table of previously unknown friends.
The invitation said BYOW, so Brenda and Patrick brought several bottles of Hitachino beers, another couple brought two bottles of wine, and we brought a couple bottles that we all shared at the table.
The first course was a beautiful Raw Fish Rainbow Salad, made with thinly sliced sushi-grade salmon, vegetables, crispy noodles, fried crisps, pomelo (or grapefruit) pulps, herbs, five spices, and sweet & sour plum sesame dressing.
Tracy added the remaining ingredients and drizzled the dressing over everything while she explained to us that this is a Chinese-Malaysian style New Year salad that everyone at the table helps toss together for prosperity and good fortune.
We mixed all of the neatly arranged ingredients together en masse with chopsticks, there were a lot of ingredients to incorporate.
The salad was beautiful and colorful, an abundance of textures and bold, bright flavors. We toasted the chef and the conversation was quite lively while we finished up the salad. Wonderful aromas continued to waft from the kitchen.
Tracy brought out the next course of Cured Duck Wagyu Leek Wraps of thin strips of tender juicy wagyu, grilled negi leek, pickled jalapeño and Mandarin orange glaze. The Chinese cured duck is like duck prosciutto, we savored each bite!
The aromas from this dish were heady from the charred leeks and delicately seared thin slices of still juicy beef.
This was served with thin wrappers to roll everything up in mu-shu or burrito style. The different elements combined artfully, each bite made my taste buds happy.
The next course is legendary among Singaporians and Malaysians, Hainanese Chicken was prepared sous vide, cooked with the skin at a low and precise temperature, then immediately ice-shocked to achieve a tender and smooth texture. It was served with a trio of sauces: ginger-green onion, spicy garlic lime chili and caramelized shallot, and sprinkled with fragrant cilantro. The chicken was succulent and tender, the velvety flesh absorbed the piquant sauces.
The fragrant aromas of the next dish, Shrimps with Duck Egg Crust, had us all drooling with anticipation. Tracy apologized over the wall from the kitchen about how long it took to prepare on her electric stove. We toasted her efforts, and our discussion at the table found that the weirdest thing any one had eaten was fish semen… The prawns were cooked in their shells (I think the head was intact and the legs were missing), coated in a delectable duck egg and curry leaf crust and drizzled in a spicy and fragrant sauce.
A lovely meaty aroma filled the room and we all oohed when Tracy served us the Champagne Coffee Ribs, which seemed of flintstonian proportions. The ribs were coated in a sticky savory-sweet glaze and fall-off-the-bone tender, after slow cooking for 24 hours. They were so finger licking good, then we found a spoon to scoop up more of the thick viscous sauce which added glamour to every bite.
The next dish was a classic southern chinese banquet dish Abalone Scallop Vegetable Platter the extravagant ingredients symbolize the wealth we wish for in the new year. A beautiful presentation of sliced abalone, slow cooked scallops that were so tender they melted in our mouths, on a bed of mushrooms and baby bok choy in rich velvety master stock reduction.
The smells from the kitchen just kept getting better and I couldn’t resist the allure of garlic frying with noodles, and took an action shot of her stir frying them in a humongous wok.
Longevity Fried Noodles, is a classic dish for any celebration, the long noodles symbolize good health and long life. The thick chewy noodles were deeply infused with the flavors of garlic and soy, punctuated with bursts of pungent green onion and sweet tender shrimp.
We were quite full by this point but roused ourselves when Tracy brought out a tray of beautiful Agar Jelly Art that she said took days to complete. A single koi fish made from lima bean, swimming in a clear dome made from almond, rose water scented agar-agar with roasted black sesame “gravel.” It was too beautiful to eat, but we speared the fish with tiny bamboo prongs and enjoyed the sweet bean paste, the agar agar jelly was lightly sweet and refreshing.
My family celebrates the new year on January 1, but how lucky am I to be able to celebrate the Lunar New Year in such a grand manner and doesn’t that make it doubly auspicious? Thanks Tracy G for hosting such a fabulous feastly feast! Her contact info was conveniently on a mirror near the entry, @EatWithTracy on Feastly, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.