Contrary to popular belief, the idea of sharing food and gathering around a dining table is not a lost art. That’s why we’re so smitten with SALT HOUSE – a new, curated lifestyle brand offering fashion-forward home goods for the modern home cook and entertainer. SALT HOUSE is essentially the “cool new kid on the block,” founded by Sarah Ashley Schiear just this year. SALT HOUSE has an ever-expanding online store and currently offers six modern and chic apron styles – each made with handpicked fabrics and made to fit to a woman’s body much like a well-tailored dress or a favorite pair of jeans. 

After appearing on Season 1 of ABC’s The Taste, Schiear went on to grow her clientele – and has cooked for clients such as Mary Kate Olsen, as well as brands like Mango and Paul Mitchell. Her specialty? A great party. That’s why we turned to the entertaining expert when we were craving something a little more special for New Year’s Eve. We’ll let Sarah explain: 

A DIY soba bar is an inspired way to ring in the New Year with friends. Soba noodles are a traditional Japanese food eaten on New Year’s Eve as they are thought to promote a long, healthy life. And bonus: they’re good for you! Pair with an assortment of toppings like avocado and grilled shrimp and a selection of champagne and Japanese beverages for a NYE feast with a twist.

Make a big batch of soba noodles in advance; they can be paired with warm or cold broth later by guests. If you have a Japanese store nearby, you can purchase a ready-made broth concentrate that can be mixed with water and served warm or cold. Just ask the sales clerk for their recommendation on the best one, as the labels are typically in Japanese. You can alternatively make a simple broth with garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Warm broth can be served in a teapot.

Offer a variety of vegetables, proteins, and sauces so that guests can concoct their own perfect dishes. Below are some ideas, but don’t be afraid to get creative and come up with your own. It doesn’t have to be traditional; you can dream up any pairings that work with an Asian influence. Uni and bacon is a great combination, with a squeeze of lime to set off the flavors. Chic chopsticks and an assortment of white and gold bowls add style to the table.

TIP: Toss shiitake mushroom caps (remove stems first as they are bitter) in neutral oil like canola or grapeseed and season well with salt before roasting in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden underneath. Slice and serve with everything from tacos to soba.

TIP: Boneless short rib is one of our favorite choices for red meat that’s flavorful, inexpensive, and foolproof. Just be prepared to eat it on the rare side, as it’s only tender this way or when braised for several hours. Season room temperature meat well with salt on all sides before searing in a hot pan until browned on each side. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

TIP: Yuzukosho, a Japanese condiment made with yuzu and fermented chile peppers, is the perfect marinade for shrimp because it’s citrusy and spicy. Figure 1 to 2 teaspoons per pound of shrimp, depending on how spicy you like it. I like to mix in some grated garlic, salt, and a bit of oil before coating the shrimp. Marinate for 30 minutes before grilling shrimp until just opaque on a hot grill or grill pan.

VEGGIES: sliced avocado, shredded red cabbage, julienned carrots, sautéed baby bok choi, sliced scallions, roasted shiitake & maitake mushrooms.

PROTEINS: grilled spicy shrimp, soft-boiled egg, seared boneless short rib, bacon & uni, edamame.

SAUCES: soba or dashi broth, Miso-Tahini Sauce (recipe below)

HERBS & FINISHING TOUCHES: cilantro, mint, shaved radish, sesame seeds.

SUSHI TO START: A Himalayan salt block is the perfect serving vessel for sushi. Chill it prior to serving and it will stay cold while you serve in addition to adding natural seasoning to the fish. Order a sampling from your favorite local sushi bar and offer this in addition or as an appetizer with your DIY soba bar.

Champagne is a must for most of us on NYE, but try adding sparkling sake and your favorite Japanese brews to the mix to continue the theme.

For dessert, serve sorbet in glasses of champagne. Our blackberry-lychee recipe (below) is simple and delicious, and the addition of lychee is on point with the theme.

2 cans lychees in syrup
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 10-ounce package frozen blackberries
Juice of one lime
Pinch of sea salt

In a blender, add 1 can lychees with syrup, 1 can drained lychees, sugar, blackberries, lime juice, and sea salt. Blend until combined. Strain to remove seeds. Using an ice cream machine, freeze until hardened. (Makes about 1 quart.)

Tahini adds a nuttiness that complements the miso surprisingly well. Use as a sauce in any Asian-inspired dish, or as a vinaigrette with salad or vegetables.

1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons white miso
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin
½ cup canola or grapeseed oil
¼ cup water
Juice of ½ lime

Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix) and blend until smooth. Enjoy… and Happy New Year!!

VENUE: Urban Cowboy B&B
To learn more about Sarah Ashley Shiear & SALT HOUSE, click here.