Thursday, July 27, 2017

today's luncheon: a success! (see pics)

Unsurprisingly, my morning was hectic. I had stopped cooking, last night, to get a few hours' shut-eye before continuing at 6:45AM today. The next few hours involved all the non-stop cooking that I probably should have done the night before. I somehow managed to get the Middle Eastern chicken prepped, then I worked on the galbi and got that prepped, too, although I remember wishing I'd had a proper grill. The "searing" on the galbi came from the blackening of the marinade on the frying pan: the first round of meat wasn't seared that much, but the subsequent rounds acquired a sort of artificial sear thanks to the carbonizing sugar in the pan. I finished cooking and still had about thirty minutes in which to shower.

Just as I was about to shower, I got a text message from the building's plumbers, who asked whether it'd be okay to come up to my place to check out my leak problem. I groaned: it was 10:35AM, and I had an 11AM appointment in the lobby with our department's new guy, who had flown in from Maine just yesterday. I texted that the plumbers could come up at exactly 10:55AM. My plan was to finish my shower, get dressed, let the plumbers in, dash downstairs to meet the new guy, then get back upstairs, wait while the plumbers finished their work, then lug my half-ton of food over to the office via cab with the new guy in tow. Luckily, that's approximately how the timing worked out, but that final half-hour before leaving was hectic all the same. Right as the plumbers were leaving, they told me to come back home in the evening, turn my A/C on for an hour, then call their office so they could confirm there was no more leakage from the A/C (the Carrier repairman came the other day and supposedly fixed the leak). They left; I then gathered my stuff and left with the new guy. We went down to the street and got a cab.

I got to the office around 11:40 and began final prep, which involved setting up my huge food containers (plastic buckets, essentially), slicing up some tomatoes, and crumbling some feta cheese. My boss had suggested that we begin our shindig—which the boss described as a goodbye party for our outgoing staffer and a welcoming party for our newbie—at 1PM. A bit after 1:00, everything was ready, and we all gathered for the meal. I explained how to plate, heat, and eat the Middle Eastern chicken, then I explained how to attack the galbi, which I had made expressly for the outgoing staffer, who had told me he liked Korean food.

Here's a pic of the huge plastic containers in which I'd placed my food for ten:

Here's a closeup of my Middle Eastern chicken, which you've seen before:

One of my colleagues has a Lebanese mother, and he told me my food looked and smelled legitimately Middle Eastern, so I'm no longer going to surround the term "Middle Eastern" with scare quotes. I've gotten the official seal of approval.

Below: most of my colleagues, faces mosaicked out, sitting in a spontaneous circle while they noshed. "Food brings people together!" I joked when I walked in and saw this tableau. "And people bring food together!" replied the outgoing staffer.

My Aussie colleague said I should start a restaurant and sell this chicken. He thinks I'd make a killing, which I took as high praise. One of the female staffers muttered, "This is so fuckin' good," which is the first time I've ever heard anyone get sweary over my cooking. I had been very worried that the chicken—which was all breast meat—might have dried out over the course of the morning and early afternoon, but everyone assured me the meat was just fine, and my own plate of chicken wasn't bad at all.

Final shot: digging in. You can see a glimpse of the galbi in the foreground. The sauce next to it is a sweet glaze made from the original marinade plus a hell of a lot more sugar.

As much as people liked the galbi, they liked the chicken way, way better, and that huge bucket of food was nearly totally destroyed by the time everyone had stopped eating. There's enough left for one serving for one person. Where I went wrong, though, was in making way too much rice and couscous. This is a carb-hating office, I've discovered, and I'd say that only a fourth of the carbs got eaten. Astonishing, but also worth noting for future reference: from now on, I'll make only a fraction of what I'd made for today.

That problem aside, the food was a hit. I even got a compliment from the "so fucking good" staffer re: my oi-muchim, which she enjoyed along with her beef. Everything's been stowed in the new, recently upgraded office fridge (we replaced the previous one with a much bigger one), so I have nothing to tote home. I've told the staff that they can take whatever they want from the leftovers and have lunch or dinner with them. I also provided Ziploc bags to people who wanted to bag up some food to take home. My longtime coworker (from before our move to this new building) took home some food for his girlfriend to munch on. He said he's secretly hoping she hates it so that he can eat it himself. And that about says it all.

Remind me to tell you the story of my wild goose chase in quest of cilantro.


Curtis S. said...

Is there a recipe link that comes close to the Middle Eastern chicken you can share?

Kevin Kim said...

Yes, there is. Here you go.

Kevin Kim said...

BTW, I doubled that recipe to feed ten.