This recipe is so easy to prepare, especially for a crowd, versatile, especially great for a crowd, and works well as a "potluck" meal, with minimal prep for most of the ingredients. (More on that in a moment!)
The idea is that you set up all the ingredients separately in containers along an assembly or buffet line. It's different from a buffet in that each food item is a component of the whole dish rather than ~ around the kitchen counter and/or table.
I almost didn't even try this meal because it sounded and looked so ~ well ~ so downright weird! But I'm SO glad I did! For one thing, I would have gone hungry that night had I not tried it as this was all that was served, but also, it became one of my all-time favorites~ just in that one evening ~ which was waaaay back in the early 1980's!
Starting with the end in mind, here's a picture of the put-together plate of food:
And here is the line-up of food that you will have set up right before everything is ready for people to go through the food line. The starting point is the plates on the left...
... and most of the rest of the line-up...
(I couldn't fit in the last ingredient or two at the end, to the right of the stove, like the maraschino cherries.)
By the way, I like to have the silverware and napkins at the end of the buffet line so that guests don't have to try to juggle them with their plates as they're dishing up their food.
Let people know that they are free to include and exclude whatever items they like! But I do like to challenge them to take things they might not normally eat or combine as the result is absolutely delicious!
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My hubby was very picky eater back then, and he loved this meal!!! He just had to leave out just a few of the components. So this is why it's great for kids too! You can just pick and choose what you want. (But, again ~ try it all, if you possibly can!)
I have listed these in the order we like to put them in, but, really ~ for the most part, there's nothing "best" about placing them in this order ~ other than these basic points:
Obviously the amounts will vary according to how many people you have coming. Your first try will be somewhat experimental, but even so, you never know how much of which ingredients the people are going to want. So just take the plunge and DO it! You'll love it!
As you look at the recipe ~ which is really more a line-up of ingredients than an actual "recipe" ~ you will notice that the measurements are not precise. For you Type A's, this is not a problem! (No really; it isn't!) If you're in doubt, and want to be sure you have enough food, just go for the greater amount of each ingredient.
White Rice - a large pan of it. Let's just say 3-4 cups for a group of 10 people. (If you have too much, just use it for another meal. ... You could always use brown rice or another similar product; this is just what I use.)
Chinese Noodles - 1 large or 2 small bags
Chicken - Bake or boil until fully cooked, cool, and then cut into bite-size pieces (I tend toward smaller pieces since many other ingredients will be in with each piece of chicken.)
Chicken Gravy - 3 cans (regular 10-3/4 oz.size) of Cream of Chicken Soup. Make according to directions. (You can use milk or water. Put half of it into a second container to serve further down the assembly line as it is used twice.
Grated Cheese - a nice bowlful of it (2 or 3 cups)
Celery - 5 stalks, chopped or sliced
Crushed Pineapple - 2 20-ounce cans, mostly drained. (I say "mostly" because I like to leave just a little juice to blend with the gravy which adds a yummy "zing" to the flavor. Serve with a slotted spoon so that people can include as much or as little of the juice as they like.)
Coconut - 1 large or 2 small bags
Tomatoes - 6 medium (more if you're using Roma tomatoes), chopped fairly small (I don't prefer big chunks of anything in my bites; I like to get all the flavors into each bite. If you like larger pieces, go for it!)
Sunflower Seeds - 1 cup (I prefer salted.)
Green Onions - a few stalks, chopped (These are more like an embellishment, so you don't need as much, unless your group has a lot on onion lovers.)
Chicken Gravy - Same as above. (This is the other half of the gravy from earlier-on in the line-up.)
Sliced olives - 1 or 2 regular-size cans, sliced (This wasn't even in the original recipe, but I love olives, so they are included!)
Sliced almonds - 1 large or 2 small bags (It's much easier to get them already sliced, unless you have some sort of cool Pampered Chef utensil to slice them with, which I do, but I'd still rather get them sliced.)
Maraschino cherries - 1 jar (with at least as many cherries as you have guests coming!)
UP THE FOOD
For you hostesses who'd like to know more about how I organize this, here you go!!! My tips are neither "art" nor "science," but I know that *I* like to find out what I can ahead from those who have gone before me ~ to save time and keep it as stress-free as possible.
BOWLS & UTENSILS:
Put the stack of plates at the beginning of the line, and let people go through the line and layer the items they like one after another.
I get all the serving bowls out and place them in order ahead of time. If you are as uncool ~ I mean as "natural and real-life oriented" ~ as I am, you can serve the gravy and the rice in the pans they were cooked in, which is why the hot pads are on the counter.
As you can see below, my serving bowls do not all match. In fact, very few of them match! Amazingly, the food tasted just as good as if it had been served in beautifully matching bowls! I KNOW!!! Weird!!!
[SIDE NOTE: As you will find out here at my blog ~ if you haven't already ~ I'm one who likes to make everyone else feel better about themselves because my stuff is not as cool ~ or as matching ~ as other people's stuff! I "lower the bar" on the whole "keeping up with the Jones's thing, and thus also lessen the sense of competition and the level of stress. ... That said, however, my daughters, Sharnessa and Chrissy, would both have things matching as much as possible. And they've never made me feel inferior, or like I should be competing with them. We are all secure in who we are.]
I also put the appropriate serving utensil in each bowl or pan ahead of time, be it a spoon, fork, or tongs.
THE FOOD ITEMS
IN THE LINE-UP
Pictured below is the first part of the line-up, with the plates coming first. As you can see above and below, I like to label all the ingredients. I make these labels ahead of time, and place them around my counter in the order I want them to be dished up in.
Labeling isn't absolutely necessary, I've done this without, but it sure does make everything flow much more easily when your guests start arriving and want to help, and, because there are labels, they know exactly where to put their items. So going to the extra trouble of making these will actually help you be more relaxed when your company arrives.
And here is the next stretch of the assembly-line/buffet, continuing from the other side of the sink...
NOTE: The coffee mugs in the back there are the ones we had setting out next to the coffee maker as guests arrived. If I were a good photographer, I would have removed them from the picture, but this is real-life stuff, and I was doing well to get pictures at all in the midst of having ten people over for home group!
Here are links to the free printables, in three different file types. Please read the notes under each link to make sure you get the one that will work best for you.
Javanese Dinner Label
Word File / editible
but less stable
Javanese Dinner Label
PDF File / stable
but not editable
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P.S. I originally got this recipe from my friend, Lana Young. We were in the same church, homeschooled our kids together for the first year, and choreographed and taught "Fit For Our King" aerobic dance classes together.
Let me know
in the comments if
you try this!!!