The Grocery Ninja leaves no aisle unexplored, no jar unopened, no produce untasted. Creep along with her below, and read her past market missions here.
Since we hail from all manner of ethnicities, we call our gathering the "United Nations Thanksgiving," and it's a night where we all bring a plate (a common newbie gaffe: to figure the host must be running low on crockery and helpfully show up with a stack of empty dishes).
With so many vegetarians in the group, it's an unspoken agreement that the stuffing be meat-free. So we will have Indian biryani, Malaysian nasi ulam, Middle Eastern megadarra, Bhutanese red rice salad, and, as promised by the cute new grad student from Italy, his grandma's "kick-ass" panzanella.
The corn almost always shows itself in a giant, savory Korean pancake called pajeonalong with bell peppers, onions, scallions, and squid. It's usually dipped in a soy saucerice vinegarsesame oil mix, but we love tearing into these with gochujanga thick, sweet, hot-pepper paste made with glutinous rice powder, fermented soybeans, and red chili powder.
You may be relieved to know we've yet to find a way to mess with good ol' pumpkin pie, and so one of us usually shows up with a scrumptiously "traditional" one. But this year, one of the Indonesian moms is actually going to be with us, and rumor has it her pumpkin ondeh ondehlittle chewy cakes (think Japanese mochi) made with steamed pumpkin and tapioca flour before being rolled in freshly desiccated coconutare legendary. When bitten into, they burst to release a flood of molten gula melaka (palm sugar) in your mouth.
Then, there will be yamsor what most of us in the group know as "sweet potatoes." We like the red-skinned, yellow-fleshed ones from Japan that taste like chestnuts. These will be wrapped in foil and buried among coals in the fireplace. There, they will roast to sweet, creamy, perfection to be savored at the end of the night, steaming hot green tea (or hard cider) in hand.
I've not forgotten the turkey of course, and this year I'm on turkey duty. And because I cannot leave things be, I'm going to do it my way: The turkey will be brined, the baggies of innards within will not be forgotten, and instead of spice-rubs and aromatics, I will use my new favorite condiment: Chinese gha na cai, or olive vegetable. This stuff is incredible. If I were a kid again, this is how I'd describe it: WHAM! POW! SWISH! BANG! WHOOP!
I've seared duck with this. I've sautéed pork, stir-fried noodles, grilled tofu, braised chicken, and just had it with plain steamed rice. It can do no wrong. But I'm not telling anyone; people tend to get a bit touchy when it comes to the bird. I'm just going to surprise themand maybe experiment on roast quail first.
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