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The cole slaw came out great!

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    The cole slaw came out great!

    I'm doing a BBQ on Sunday night for about 50 people at a bar I go to often. It's going to be lamb, because it's really the best meat available locally. I want want want to do ribs but they are so difficult to find and really expensive. One person can easily put away most of a rack of ribs so doing a party for 10 is a challenge and 50 is out of the question. There is a great Muslim butcher nearby where they just hack pieces off of a fresh lamb and weigh them for you. So I'm going to get a couple of legs, slather them in rosemary and serve them with garlic mashed potatoes. BUT what should be the second side dish? Usually I just cheap out and use bread, but we've already got a starch. What, what, what?

    Cole slaw can go well with lamb, can't it? I always thought of it going with the more traditional BBQ meats. In fact, I never liked cole slaw at all. Growing up, it was that nasty stuff served at Long John Silver's or other grubby seafood restaurants. Looking back, my parents liked to eat cheap seafood all the time. No wonder I never liked it and always ordered the fried shrimp. But the cole slaw on this site looks easy to make and cheap, why not give it a try? Well, the big reason is the Chinese audience. Usually they don't like anything that's not Chinese food. I'd better test this out before making a huge batch of it.

    So, last night I went to the bar and tried out the recipe. They have a little kitchen in the back that is one of the most cramped, least clean places I have ever prepared food. I scrubbed everything I used thoroughly. I brought some ingredients from my apartment, mustard powder and celery seed, which I bought specifically the last time I was in the States to use in this site's cole slaw recipe. Luckily the rest of the ingredients are locally available. I had a bit of a problem with the brown sugar, it was quite lumpy and the lumps were rock-hard. I tried mashing them with the mortar and pestle but they just stuck to the pestle and didn't granularize. I had to dissolve them in the vinegar mixture. I couldn't find white onions, so I just got some purple (red?) onions and soaked them for 20 minutes in water. I mixed it all and put it in the fridge for an hour. It smelled like cole slaw! I bellied up to the bar for a few gin and tonics while I anxiously waited. The beer here is terrible and they started using counterfeit vodka recently, so I've had to change to a drink I don't usually take. Gordon's gin is too cheap to bother faking, you can always count on it.

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    The hour was up and I went to check. It smelled like cole slaw again, a good sign. I tasted some, and it was good! Not like that creamy crap that I used to leave on my plate as a boy. A bit sweet for my taste, but a splash of vinegar cured that. But now, the real test. I took several rice bowls and put the cole slaw in, and wandered around to some tables to ask the Chinese customers to try a free dish. See, there's this mental block that a lot of Chinese have that prevents them from enjoying anything that's not Chinese. It's just this "Chinese food is suitable for Chinese people" attitude that will tell them not to enjoy something if it's even the least bit off. You can get around it if they are properly mentally prepared, or it tastes like something they already know.

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    I was nervous, but I figured even if they didn't like it I'd make it anyway, because it came out so well and at least my fellow foreigners would like it. We got some disposable chopsticks from the bar as I had forgotten to pick up plastic forks from the store. They took a few tentative bites. They loved it! Amazing! People were even asking for the bowl back to have another bite. A huge hit! There was neither too much, nor not enough juice. I served a bowl to everyone I could find and not a single person said they didn't care for it.

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    One person even said that it needed some spicy peppers. Ha, maybe I should make a batch with Tabasco sauce, or serve it as an option on the side. But then, I remembered. There is a Sichuan spicy cabbage dish that is common, popular, and cheap. I've had it many times and I like it, it's my standard choice at Sichuan restaurants. It's vinegary and spicy and pretty darn good washed down with beer, and it's a good palate cleanser next to the oily, fiery Sichuan dishes. I suppose my (ahem, Meathead's) cole slaw reminded them of this dish, which is probably why they liked it.

    Eh, either way, I'm glad to have found something to accompany my lamb. I already know they like my (ahem, Meathead 's) roast lamb recipe, and who doesn't like mashed potatoes. I'm also glad I had a rehearsal, so I know how to do it. I found a couple of problems, like the bar doesn't have anything but an induction cooker to boil potatoes. I'm going to have to find a solution because that ain't gonna work, the one pot they have that works with the cooker is far too small, I'd need like six batches and that's way too much work.

    I'm looking forward to Sunday night, it's going to be a blast. I'm fully confident that everything is going to work well, and it's going to be enjoyed by foreigners and Chinese alike. I love doing this kind of thing where both groups like it. All credit goes to this site! You've taught me everything I know. Thanks to everyone for answering my endless series of dumb questions. I'd still be grilling hamburgers if it wasn't for all the great people here answering my questions and Meathead's optimized recipes.
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    Wow... I just cooked a dinner for 20 people and it was a major production. It took me 5 days of prep and final production. 50 people? I would need 2 sous chefs. Good luck.👍


    • Lost in China
      Lost in China commented
      Editing a comment
      Well, I am going to have a few bar girls to do things like peel potatoes. It's not really that hard! This is the fourth or fifth time I've done a cookout there. The cole slaw will just be a lot of chopping, the potatoes will just be a lot of mashing, and I'll have to start cooking at 2-4pm to make sure everything is done on time by 9pm. Last time it only took 2½ - 3 hours to cook the lamb all the way through. The fire was not hot enough so I got them up to temperature in the oven, took about 30 minutes to do. The real challenge will be keeping the first cook's meat up to temperature. I'll have to improvise a faux cambro somehow, probably out of the freezer bag I use to take frozen foods back and forth from here to the States. I have a mini-cooler but it's only big enough to hold eight cokes, I don't know if it'll fit a leg-o-lamb.

      Should be a piece of cake! I'm looking forward to it, the reaction should be wonderful. Cole slaw, mashed potatoes and lamb. Mmm.


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