Epic Housewarming Prep

16 Feb

Two months after moving in to our first home together – almost to the day – we’re having our families over for a day of food, drink and most likely cards. T0morrow will be mostly his family, but it’s the first time my brother and two best friends will meet any of his family and also the first time my parents meet his aunts, uncles and cousins. Our “small” family housewarming will be around 40 adults and kids. My first rational thought might be: shoot me now. But no. I have a few dishes that I know how to make (am I jinxing myself? perhaps I should knock on all the wood), and Thuan is going to pick up several trays of food from Eden Center to fill in the gaps.

I’m making Thit Kho (Braised Pork Belly and Eggs), Canh Kho Qua (Pork Stuffed Bittermelon Soup), Mac and Cheese with spinach and sundried tomatoes (his request, actually, and something the American folk will be happy to eat). We bought beef short ribs for Korean BBQ and chicken wings both for the grill.

Last night after trekking to Costco and FreshWorld, I started boiling the first dozen eggs for Thit Kho and planned on doing a few other things. But then Thuan went to the sink and it broke. This is what happens when you buy a home. Shit breaks and you don’t have facilities or property management at your beck and call. I have my future husband. After squirting myself with the hose several times (I’m a little slow on the uptake at times), we decided to call it a night and get the faucet fixed today because how hard can it be?

Broken faucet. Brilliant!

Let me tell you how hard it is. Four trips to Home Depot, far too much money on single use, unhelpful tools and maybe 10 hours difficult. But my man fixed it with his brother and we got it done. Fortunately I didn’t need much water to get the Thit Kho started.

We bought nearly 5 pounds of pork belly (or “bellie” as one Fresh World label said) which left me a lot of trimming to do. You don’t want too much fat on the meat and not everyone likes the skin, so I did a little half and half. I made up a jar of caramel sauce (this is a great step by step guide to make your own) and got to searing the pork belly – in batches – before tossing in a stock pot with a full bottle of Coco Rico. I added about a cup of water on top to cover the meat and reduced heat to low and left it alone for the full day – saturating the house with the savory aroma of braising pork belly.

Caramelizing the pork belly.

Caramelizing the pork belly before it goes in to a bath of Coco Rico, fish sauce and a little water.

I usually scoop the fat and bits that rise to the top all day, but since I’m preparing a day ahead, I let it go wild. After the pork was beautifully braised and liquid slightly reduced I tossed in the boiled eggs and turned off the heat and let cool. It was much easier to scoop off the fat that cooked off throughout the day once it started to cool. It’s hanging out in the fridge overnight and I’ll scrape the rest of the fat and other bits in the morning before warming it up before the party.

The ground pork filling for the Canh Kho Qua is easy enough to make, but mixing it tonight is one less thing I have to do tomorrow. Here’s what you need to feed an army.

Canh Kho Qua Ingredients

1.5 – 2 pounds ground pork

1 cup re-hydrated woodear mushrooms – chopped

1 large shallot diced

1 tbs + more to taste fish sauce

1 tbs each sugar and ground pepper

Mix all of the above well and store overnight in the fridge. This mixture will be stuffed in rounds of cored bittermelon and tossed in chicken broth to cook.

So I think we’re all set. We have beer, wine, will have liquor and definitely too much food. Wish me luck for tomorrow and hope I pass the test of his family’s palates!

Did I mention we finally got our dining room furniture? I’m in love, and a living, breathing Crate&Barrel advertisement. See that awesome chandelier? That was another epic DIY project. Another “easiest home improvement you’ll ever do” kind of thing people tell you about. And they’re all liars.  Anyways, it feels like we’re at a lovely, polished picnic with rustic table and comfy side chairs + a bench. Swoon.

Dining room furniture

Dining room, complete!

4 Responses to “Epic Housewarming Prep”

  1. Patty February 16, 2013 at 7:50 am #

    Sorry you had to deal with a broken faucet but thank goodness it’s all fixed 🙂 Everrything sounds wonderful! Can’t wait to meet everyone…

    • amandare February 16, 2013 at 7:58 am #

      It was quite the battle, but we won..

  2. Janet Conant February 16, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    I’m in love with your dining room, swoon is right! I hope your house-warming was everything you wanted it to be, I’m sure it was wonderful! Your pork-belly dish looked fantastic!

    • amandare February 16, 2013 at 8:02 am #

      Folks are coming over today do we’ll see how it goes! Thank you!! The rug needs to be a little bigger, but we’ll see. It sheds like crazy so may get replaced..

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