Summer Beach Bash Recipes
This colorful seaside picnic brings friends together for an enticing feast for the senses.
Come summer, when Farina Wong Kingsley returns to her vacation home on Bald Head Island, a secluded and idyllic barrier island off the North Carolina coast, she's not trying to get away from it all. In fact, that's when the party starts.
Kingsley—a culinary instructor, cookbook author, and owner of Farina's Asian Pantry—lives most of the year in Singapore. While her travel schedule has her jaunting across continents, her favorite spot to host a gathering of friends and family is on the beach at Bald Head, where she spends a month in the summer with her husband and two girls. "We like to barbecue and hang out with friends here," says Kingsley. "It's a reunion."
This get-together's menu features bright colors and spicy, vibrant flavors that are the hallmark of Kingsley's recipes. For parties, she suggests covering a range of foods—some meat, some vegetables, and some carb-based, so no one is left out. When it comes to her favorite dishes, "it's always about texture, and color is key," she says. "My specialty is Asian, so I rely on spices and fresh herbs."
Cooking for crowds never rattles her: "Whether it's 15 or 30 people, it doesn't matter. I just make a little more."
Chaise lounges laid flat become tables on the sand. Crystal candelabras and driftwood logs act as centerpieces and keep linens from blowing in the breeze.
Nothing rings in a party like a signature cocktail. This tasty spin on a classic uses puréed pineapple and homemade lemon grass syrup for extra flavor.
Recipe: Pineapple Mojitos
For the spice-averse in your crowd, you can lose the jalapeño pepper in the lettuce wraps and pepper-lime dressing.
- Recipe: Spicy Lettuce-Wrapped Chicken
Rice paper-wrapped spring rolls are ideal for a party by the sea—no utensils required.
- Recipe: Hoisin Beef Spring Rolls
Messy? Potentially. Worth it? Absolutely! Just give your hands a quick dunk in the ocean after you chow down.
Curb the heat in this shrimp recipe by dipping in a colorful and creamy cilantro-yogurt chutney.
- Recipe: Curry-Spiced Shrimp
Make sure to purchase high-quality sushi grade-tuna, because the fish should be served rare in the middle.
- Recipe: Black Sesame Seared Tuna
Keep dessert light by drizzling citrus syrup over summer's freshest fruit.
- Forget chairs. People like to stand when they're mingling. When it's time to eat, set up low tables so people can relax on blankets in the sand.
- Consider the wind. Choose sturdy, shatter-resistant tableware in substantial plastic, tin, or melamine.
- Go for pretty and practical. Make sure centerpieces are heavy enough to keep your tablecloths in place.
- Get creative with serving dishes. Kingsley uses newspaper or linens right on the table if she doesn't have a large enough platter for foods like boiled crab.
- Avoid fork-and-knife foods, especially when people are eating picnic style.
- Prepare items that taste just as delicious at room temperature as they do piping hot or ice-cold.
- Ask for help. Always have friends get involved—it's more fun for everyone.