COOK A SEAFOOD MEAL FOR GUESTS!
For some people, cooking for guests can be a daunting task. For many, just cooking seafood at home can be intimidating as well. Combining these two things and cooking seafood for guests is something that many people will never attempt, but this shouldn’t be the case. Here is a common example of an invite to dinner at my house:
“Hey, I’m in the lab tonight making 4 different kinds of fish. I’ve never made any of them and I’m trying a few new techniques. Each one is a 50/50 shot at being good. Wanna be my guinea pig? No promises, but they can’t all be bad.”
This might seem like a worst-case scenario of anxiety, but here’s why it isn’t for me.
I have foody friends. They like to experiment.
I have several items going at once, so if one blows up, we don’t go hungry.
I allow myself to fail. Failing is learning.
I practice cooking scientifically. When something is not great, I change one variable and then document the results. When I miss, it isn’t by much, so most attempts are at least edible.
I value the journey, not just the destination, so the cooking and the growth is valuable even if the complete dish is not.
At home, with just my immediate family, I can get a little lazy. I usually make OK food, but I don’t press myself to do it perfectly every time. Having some guests can push you to go all out and cook carefully and attentively.
Sharing a well-executed dish with friends or family can be extremely rewarding. It can be doubly rewarding if it is something that they’ve never tried or something they didn’t know they would like. Bonding over a shared adventure in food is a great way to build and maintain friendships.
This challenge is about pushing your comfort zone a bit further than you would alone. It’s about trying new things. It’s about putting a little pressure on yourself to make something great. I recommend choosing a dish or two that you have tried before. Choose something that is not too difficult and that you are confident in. Then practice it, and dial it in. Invite some people over, and find a perfect piece of fish to start with. Maybe let the market drive your choice. If you’ve been seeing pristine fillets of rockfish or glistening fresh shrimp in your local seafood case, choose that. If your market is advertising some fresh local striped bass or crabs, do that instead.
Anyone can cook a chicken breast or spaghetti for a few friends and there is nothing wrong with these, but will your guests remember it? If you feed them something new and adventurous, you may just create a lasting food memory. It is easier than you think.