Some notes on cooking for large number of people

This is an overdue post. In fact, I have many new things to blog but had been tied up with things. Two days ago, I made some really delicious ‘ngau lam’ or stewed beef brisket and tendons Chinese style. Will write about that later.

Meanwhile, I am going to jot down a few things I learned from cooking for 180 people. I must say I am proud that I managed to pull it through with a lot of help from everyone. Things went so smoothly, I just have to thank God for that.

So, here are some notes :

1) Find the cheapest, bulkiest and easiest to prepare ingredients. Many types of vegetables are not suitable because they turned limp and yellowish when cooked in big batches.


2) Root vegetables and other hardy vegetables are the best.

3) Chicken is the best choice because it suits all religions except vegetarians, of course.

4) One medium size chicken can be chopped into 14 pieces. Of course, never attempt to chop chicken on your own, get it chop by the sellers because you will never be able to get uniformed sizes.

5) Taucheo (fermented soya beans) plus chopped garlic and ginger makes almost every type of foods delicious. It is cheap too. Forget about frills like cut chillies and spring onions on top. These raw vegetables harbour bacterias and spoil your foods.


6) Eggs may sound easy to cook but remember that when you have to cook over 200 eggs, knocking them takes time. Never knock into one big bowl. Break it into small bowls and pour into a bigger one. This way, if one egg is rotten, the most you wasted are three or five eggs (depending on your size of bowl).


7) Too many cooks spoil the broth. This applies to cooking by a group too. Make it an understanding that only one person flavours the foods. With oil smoking hot, water in boiling frenzy and gravy splattering, there is no time to argue over how many tablespoons of salt to use. So, always rely on only one person to hold the salt and pepper.

8) Write or draw out clear instructions. Tell people how to cut the onion, potatoes or whatever. Give exact sizes.

9) Be prepared for some ‘extra, unwanted suggestions’ and deal with them with a smile but don’t doubt yourself.


10) Lastly, give people the freehand when you are sure they can handle it. Trust in God and everything will surely turns out fine.

So, how much raw ingredients were needed to feed 184 people, with some extra left.

15 chickens
10 kilograms potatoes
3 kg carrots
3 kg celery
3 huge cabbage
210 eggs
2 kg ginger
5 kg onions
2 kg garlic
1 bottle of taucheo, light soya sauce, dark soya sauce
Spices, garam masala, tumeric powder
Rice (not sure of the amount because I wasn’t paying attention)

Total cost : Less than RM300

Post Author: Lilian

Food, travel, recipes. Chinese Malaysian, blogger, photographer and writer.

5 thoughts on “Some notes on cooking for large number of people


    (April 9, 2009 - 1:55 pm)

    Do you need an extra pair of hands at the soup kitchen. I don’t mind helping out

    Ananthan Sivalinggam

    (April 10, 2009 - 4:20 am)

    I agree that taucheo, garlic and ginger works nicely with almost anything .. but what is the different between taucheo and tausi? Most of chinese restaurants don’t seems to have taucheo these days and they call it tausi..:confused:


    (April 10, 2009 - 11:26 am)

    Ananthan – I have a picture of taucheo and tausi over at this post. Tausi is black beans preserved while tau cheo is soya bean fermented. I think it depends on the cooking. Taucheo is more for the Hokkien/Teochew cooking while tausi is more for the Cantonese cooking. I guess these Chinese dialects come from the northern and southern part of China and hence, their different taste. If you are from Penang, most Hokkien restaurants do the taucheo+ginger+garlic+chilli stir fry, usually with oysters. And thanks for asking cos it sure clear up some confusion on these beans.

    Ananthan Sivalinggam

    (April 10, 2009 - 4:50 pm)

    Wow .. this is the best explanation ever …. i have been asking all those cooks in Chinese restaurants… but they were not able to give me this detailed answer .. Thanks Lilian .. 🙂


    (April 15, 2009 - 3:13 pm)

    I love your blog! It makes my mouth water – all this home-cooked (and relatively healthy AND yummy) food. I wish I could cook like you (and have access to the great food/herb/spices).

    I am from Australia and I was just wondering if I can get Taucheo here. What brand do you use (if any) and is there a substitute?

    Also – do you have a recipe for the mass cooking chicken ‘stew’ i this post? as well as the recipe for the egg and other side dishes? They look so good. I am not good at cooking so even if you can give me estimate amounts for what to put and how to cook it, that would be great!

    Thanks Lilian

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