Bethenny's Skinnygirl Tips

Asian Dinner Party: Recipes and Planning Tips

When entertaining, we are always trying to think of something different. That's why I love preparing an Asian menu: The "wow" factor is huge, the amount of effort needed is small, and because of the variety of natural flavors in Asian culture, the food is delicious and still healthy.

Asian cuisine and decor is very simple and precise, and the smallest effort will make your evening that much more authentic. If you're in a major city, check out Chinatown or an Asian neighborhood; smaller towns may have Asian food markets instead. Pick up a few simple decorations, such as paper lanterns, an ornate tablecloth or window dressings, and serving pieces such as bamboo steamers, enamel chopsticks, and rice bowls.

When your guests arrive, be ready with bite-size snacks: steamed or microwaved edamame (packed with estrogen-like isoflavones, which can help prevent cancer), sprinkled with coarse salt; wasabi peas; and sesame sticks. They all can be found at natural food markets and will make all the difference in the world. A light cocktail, like my signature lychee martini, or store-bought sake will also help transport your guests to the Far East, and prepare them for your delicious menu.

Appetizer: Steamed dumplings and salad
For no-fuss hors d'oeuvres that are perfect for passing around the room, I pick up a healthy assortment of vegetable, pork, and shrimp dumplings from Costco, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe's. I steam them, drizzle with a low-sodium soy sauce or yuzu (found in any supermarket), and top them with thinly sliced scallions and black sesame seeds. For an added touch—and less mess for your guests—serve each dumpling on a flat-bottom wonton spoon (often sold by the dozen).

Once your guests are seated, bring out the salad. All major supermarkets have an Asian or mixed green prepackaged, prewashed mix—just add your favorite touches such as water chestnuts, cashews, and shredded cabbage, and top with my delicious ginger dressing.

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