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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bargain birthday banquet

Where can you get a 4-course gourmet banquet, including seafood, for 6 people, for $50 (apart from Pizza Hut, I mean)?

Look no further than your own kitchen! It’s the best place to put together a high-class, low-cost gourmet meal. Parking is free, tipping is not required, and there’s no corkage.

This week, with some much-needed help from The Bargain Queen, I prepared a Thai birthday banquet for my step-sister and a few assorted family members. Those who declined the invitation (they know who they are), missed out on a very pleasant evening and a free gourmet meal!

Our menu included an appetiser of Tom Yum Goong (hot & sour shrimp soup) followed by red chicken curry and Pad Thai (shrimp noodles). For dessert, we served black sticky rice, which is a sweet and nutty rice pudding made with delicious dark-coloured rice grains from Thailand. The recipes we’ve linked to aren’t the exact ones we used, but they have some widely-available ingredients for you to try.

Everyone was too full to move at the end of the meal, so my step-sister scored the next day’s lunch and dessert from it all as well!

Total time required was one hour for shopping, 90 minutes of preparation and 90 minutes of cooking. Meanwhile, our guests relaxed around the table enjoying their wine, as guests should in all good restaurants.

Our shopping list included all the Thai staples, plus a few we added from our store cupboard: lemongrass, fish sauce, dried shrimp, fresh shrimp, Thai eggplant, coconut milk, galangal (ginza), black rice, palm sugar, tamarind, lime leaves, peanut oil, Thai basil, sprouts, rice sticks, and a generous helping of “sanuk” (that’s Thai for “fun). The next post will give you some tips for saving on these important exotic ingredients.

The total cost of all raw ingredients bought and used in the cooking was just A$50. That wouldn’t cover entrees for 6 in even a modest suburban restaurant.

OK, so we didn’t include wine in the bill – but when food for six people comes to $50, you can probably afford to splash out on a good bottle or three. Wine is not a traditional drink in Thailand – but the varieties that best complement its fieriness include a chilled sweet Riesling for whites, or a big flavoursome Shiraz (Syrah) for red.

So there you have it. When you have a skill or interest in something as basic as cooking, you can use to create a bit of glamour at home, with restaurant-quality meals for home-cooked price. Plus, there’s no hassle getting home at the end of the night when you’re feeling all “relaxed”!

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  • At 11:54 am, Blogger Ms. MiniDucky said…

    Even though Thai is cheap enough around here that you could probably cheat and order take-out for about the same price, nothing tastes quite like a home-cooked meal with love! Bravo Mr. and Mrs. Bargain Queen!

  • At 1:49 pm, Blogger The Bargain Queen said…

    Thanks you! Here it's about $100 for the same quantity and quality as we cooked, so well worth the time and effort.

    Especially since I have a stack of allergies so a 'safe' meal is priceless ;)


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