At least one of the Family Dinners each year is truly epic. Sure, most months are delicious and we definitely put a lot of effort into them. But for these particular memorable dinners, we go EXTRA on the theme, make more dishes than usual and perhaps more shenanigans occur. Months like our Seafood Boil or Lūʻau jump quickly to mind.
But so far, 2018 has had a few milestone dinners. The first of which was for my birth-month!
Okay more accurately, it was also L and Dad‘s birth-month celebration too!
Per usual, we started brainstorming the month before.
Right off the bat, Dad said he wanted Prime Rib and Chocolate Ice Cream. The man didn’t even take more than a few seconds to decide.
L said maybe sashimi? Maybe seafood? She was pretty open to things.
I thought maybe a sliders bar would be fun. A bunch of little burgers with a ton of different toppings to choose from?
And then throughout the course of a couple of weeks and several text chains later, a theme out of left field emerged – a Kamayan Feast!
“Kamayan” is the Filipino traditional custom of eating solely with your hands that was prevalent prior to their Spanish colonization. These days, Kamayan occurs for holidays or celebrations and the sure telltale sign is a table covered with banana leaves and then piled high with a feast of customary Filipino foods. The usual suspects are roast pork, seafood, rice, lumpia, pancit, grilled vegetables and fresh fruit. Think family style–gone BIG!
For years now, folks (including B.I.L) have wondered why we haven’t chosen Filipino cuisine as one of our monthly themes. Sure, both B.I.L. R and S.I.L. L identify with their Filipino heritage (and thus a few of munchkins share that lineage) but it just never came to fruition.
Let the Kamayan begin!!!
And what made Fam Din extra special that month? It was the first time V and L hosted at their new digs!
Their clan relocated from NY about two years ago and officially moved into L’s childhood home. There’s been a lot of re-organizing and de-cluttering that’s been happening over the past several months but they were finally ready to welcome the tribe in! They’ve got lots of plans for remodeling and so forth – I love the place. It’s got a great vibe and let’s face it, the flow for a wonderful home to entertain in!
The thing about Kamayan is that the feast happens all at once. There’s no multiple courses as it’s all served in one gigantic, delicious pile!
The “low fuss” approach gave R some time to sit down and relax with a cigar that he picked up when we were in NoLA the week before.
And with all Fam Dins, it gave the munchkins LOTS of time to hang out and spend QT with each other. That’s my favorite part of it all.
And I mean, the tasty food isn’t bad motivation either.
Nina is a wonderful big cousie ❤
Did I tell you she’s 20 now?
Seriously, my heart hurts just thinking of it.
Approved Graffiti Activities.
I hope they look back on pictures like this years from now with their own little munckhins—remembering what a special family they are a part of. ❤
Ugh…there goes the heart hurting again….
V took this opportunity to try and shank T with a pair of tongs.
Big brothers will always be big brothers.
Speaking of T, she scored a bunch of homegrown blood oranges from a friend. So she busted out the electric citrus juicer (a serious game changer people, trust us) and was left with a quart of beautiful juice.
We used up the juice for Mimosas and they were fantastic!
And then it came time for me to put the munchkins to work.
In my opinion, if we’re doing Filipino cuisine, Lumpia Shanghai must be on the menu! It’s their take on eggrolls/fried spring rolls and that night I chose to make the filling with a combo of ground chicken and shrimp.
We had quite the assembly line going!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Nini is quite skilled at meticulous tasks. Look at how perfect her lumpia turned out?
Yup, totally would hire her if we went pro.
And by “hire”, I mean she would be “volun-told”.
She did so well that I gave her a break to snuggle with her fur cousin in the hammock while I fried the Lumpia.
Actually those two are often snuggle buddies ❤
Then R was up to bat with his mom’s recipe for Bistek Tagalog.
Bistek Tagalog are beef slices braised and browned in soy, garlic and either vinegar or calamansi juice. It’s then topped with thick slices of browned onions.
Quick Bistek break to take a pic with N!
As you might’ve noticed above, we had deep friend Golden Pompano that L picked up. To keep it crispy, we kept it in the oven on a sheet pan on low heat.
And of course it’s got to be whole fish!
Dad never really knows what the theme of our family dinners are until he shows up. So you can imagine our surprise when he showed up with a ginormous 40lb Jackfruit – FRESH! It was perfect to have the distinct tropical fruit join the Kamayan table!
In the pic below you can see that he’s wearing latex gloves. It’s because the sap of the jackfruit is incredibly sticky that gloves are a must! It’s also a good tip to use some light vegetable oil to wipe the blade of your knife after every couple of slices. If not, you’re left with rather a big mess.
Jackfruit is delicious but highly laborious.
T and Maya also introduced Dad to Snapchat filters that day. He was THOROUGHLY amused.
Nina was on produce duty! Fresh pineapple, mangoes, cucumbers and tomatoes.
Then it was time for V to fire up the grill! Here he is charring up a bunch of Baby Bok Choy and Longanisa. Longanisa is a slightly sweet, Spanish influenced sausage that can often be found at Filipino breakfasts.
I didn’t make the longanisa – I picked it up at the Asian supermarket. I know, I know….but I didn’t have time and really wanted some on the table.
V also grilled up the Eggplant that L sliced earlier.
Then it was onto the seafood. Got to have LOTS of seafood at a Kamayan feast!
Did I mention that Dad loves it when we all cook for him? I mean, with five kids that love to cook, he’s in good hands.
Grilled Whole Shrimp and Squid – tasty!
While the cooking was going down, Luna continued her training as Ollivander’s apprentice. Our niece has an affinity with the world of Harry Potter (much to her aunties’ delight!) and since she’s so crafty, she makes her own wands!
For those that follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the Elder Wand she created for me. Incredible, right?
When T saw it, she declared she needed one too – so Luna went to work!
Auntie and niece casting spells … both of whom were sorted into Hufflepuff. Yours truly is a Ravenclaw.
For the record, not all faces are happy all of the time at Fam Din.
Then it was time to take my baby out of the oven – Oven Roasted Lechon Kawali.
Many Filipino feasts showcase whole roast pig. The pork is always so juicy and tender—and OH THAT CRACKLING!!!
To Die For!
But as gluttonous as our Fam Dins can be, an entire pig seemed a bit much. Even for our standards!
Instead, I took a big ol’ slab of pork belly, brined it with a bunch of aromatics overnight and then rolled it up with some goodness inside. I then brushed the exterior with milk so that it would take on a beautiful color, roasted it (think of porchetta) and TA-DA!
The chicharrón was so crispy! It made me so happy that I did a little dance once it came out.
With all the pieces done, it was finally time to assemble the table!
First step was to cover our long table with banana leaves. Not only did it act as a decorative table “cloth” but once the hot food was piled on top, the heat released the natural oils from the leaves and left everything with a light fragrance and depth of flavor.
Note: If you use frozen banana leaves from the Asian grocery store like we did, be sure to rinse/wipe the leaves down before adding the food on top as there’s usually a bit of dirt remaining.
Next, we made a long row of fresh steamed rice. Got to have a solid base right?
Then everything was piled on top!
- Dad’s Roast Beef (not traditional for a Kamayan but bday boy did request it!)
- Oven Roasted Lechon Kawali
- Bistek Tagalog
- Grilled Longanisa
- Crispy Fried Golden Pompano
- Grilled Shrimp and Squid
- Lumpia Shanghai
- Charred Baby Bok Choy and Eggplant
- Fresh Cucumber and Tomatoes
- Fresh Jackfruit, Pineapple, Mango
- Dipping Sauces: Prime Rib Au Jus, Suka (Filipino Cane Vinegar), Fish Sauce with Chiles
You want to dive right in, don’t you? I don’t blame you.
Nina’s doing her “low key” food photography.
When these two seesters aren’t bickering, they are quite adorable.
I have no idea why I don’t have a fam pic of the Nguyens. SORRY DUDES!
But I do have these of Dad and I!
It’s so blurry but I like both of the expressions on our faces. Dad is rather foodstruck and I am just giddy.
ps. Please don’t give me crap about the Seahawks hat. He didn’t inherit that fanaticism from me. Go VIKES!
Everything was delicious. Each component hit a different note.
MASARAP! (Translation: Delicious!)
After the dinner, we needed to clean up and digest everything.
COMMENCE THE SHENANIGANS!
You just know I had to get in on it.
Btw, this is Primo…the ceramic pug that protects the house.
And last, there was my one request – Chocolate Marble Cake!
Growing up, it was my favorite — a dense yellow cake with swirls of chocolate. What could be better?
So seester N took up the dessert helm and made this beauty for us.
That cake seriously weighed like 15lbs!
She also made Chocolate Ice Cream (per Dad’s request) and Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream – because we like options.
More cuddles and QT in the sunken conversation pit.
As far as I’m concerned, every house needs a “conversation pit” that is connected to the fire place.
Having a bar nearby doesn’t hurt either — refer to top left corner below.
Our Kamayan Feast was truly so epic. And it wasn’t just the caliber of the food–it was the entire day/night!
Nini ended up taking a ton of videos that day so I asked Nina to edit them together for a quick video. When you have a moment, check it below.
I should hire them for my marketing team. Thanks, Girls!
And that’s a wrap on our Kamayan Fam Din! It will definitely be in our memories for a long time to come!
This Month’s Family Dinner Menu
Cocktails: Blood Orange Mimosas, Various Wines
Kamayan Table: Dad’s Roast Beef, Oven Roasted Lechon Kawali, Bistek Tagalog, Grilled Longanisa, Crispy Fried Golden Pompano, Grilled Shrimp and Squid, Lumpia Shanghai, Charred Baby Bok Choy and Eggplant, Fresh Cucumber and Tomatoes, Fresh Jackfruit, Pineapple, Mango
Dessert: Marble Cake, Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream, Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream