China is famous for dim sum, but the notion of where people gather to nibble, sip and socialize. Often, a selection of small plates is served as a first course before a meal, but an assortment of tastes from around the globe can make a meal on their own, or accompany drinks at your next cocktail or holiday party.
Antipasto means “”before the meal”" and is the traditional first course of a formal Italian meal. Traditional antipasti include cured meats, cheeses, olives, roasted garlic, peperoncini, anchovies, marinated artichoke hearts, toasted bread crostini topped with spreads or pâtés, and arancini (deepfried rice balls). Since so many of the elements of an antipasto table can be purchased at an Italian deli, it’s a great stress-free entertaining option. To make arancini, form small balls from leftover risotto, dip in beaten egg and roll in Kikkoman Panko Bread Crumbs. Deep-fry until golden and crisp. For variety, tuck small cubes of mozzarella cheese into the 4 center of the balls before you bread them.
In Spain, a popular evening pastime is going from bar to bar, drinking sherry and nibbling on tapas. Thinly sliced ham, squares of tortilla española (potato omelet), albondigas (meatballs), olives, small sausages, grilled vegetables and fish with garlicky aioli sauce are just a few of the tapas you might find—all served in small portions, so it’s easy to sample a variety of tastes. Boil small potatoes, cut in half and grill. Serve with garlic mayonnaise enlivened with Kikkoman Ponzu.
Cicchetti are small snacks or side dishes served in wine bars in Venice, Italy. Popular cicchetti include tiny sandwiches, olives, marinated vegetables, hard-boiled eggs and small portions of seafood, meat and vegetables on soft polenta.
Top soft polenta (in Venice, white polenta is most commonly used, but yellow polenta is just as good) with mushrooms sautéed with garlic and rosemary. Add a splash of Kikkoman Soy Sauce to bump up the natural umami of the mushrooms.
Russians wash down snacks called zakuski with shots of vodka. On a well-stocked zakuski table, you’ll find seafood like herring, smoked salmon or smoked whitefish; caviar accompanied by black bread, onions, and hard-cooked eggs; purées of spinach, beets or eggplant to spread on lavosh; and a variety of salads and pickled vegetables. Peel and grate carrots and apples and toss with a dressing made from Kikkoman Seasoned Rice Vinegar, olive oil, horseradish and sugar. Garnish with walnuts.
The food served at Japanese izakaya—sake bars that serve food—could be described as pub food, but that doesn’t begin to convey the range of dishes you’ll encounter at these lively gathering places. With everything from yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and kara-age (fried chicken nuggets) to sashimi and agedashi tofu (fried tofu in broth) on offer, there’s something for every taste on the izakaya menu.
Thread cubes of boneless chicken breast or thigh meat on skewers and grill, basting frequently with your favorite variety of Kikkoman Teriyaki Takumi Collection Sauce.
The Spanish word antojo, or craving, is the root of antojitos—Mexican street foods that satisfy that sudden urge to snack. The category encompasses tacos, tostadas, enchiladas and a variety of toppings, like beans, meat, cabbage and salsa, on a masa (cornmeal) base. Though they’re often considered casual, inexpensive street fare, many restaurants in Mexico serve antojitos as appetizers, accompanied by beans,guacamole and totopos (crispy corn chips). Mix diced mango and jicama with chopped green onion, jalapeño
and cilantro. Add a dressing made with Kikkoman Lime Ponzu, lime juice and brown sugar for a refreshing salsa to accompany your favorite antojitos. OR: Add a splash of Kikkoman Lime Ponzu to guacamole instead of lime juice and salt. You’ll get richer, deeper, beautifully rounded flavor.
Mezes are small dishes served all over the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East as an appetizer course or with drinks. Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, the Balkans, Israel, Jordan and Syria have all contributed to the long list of dishes served as mezes. Highlights include fattoush, a salad made from vegetables and toasted pita bread; tabbouleh, bulgur salad with parsley, mint, tomato and cucumbers; dips made with chickpeas or eggplant; and feta cheese drizzled with olive oil and served with kalamata olives. If you like your dips extra spicy, spike or garnish store-bought hummus with Kikkoman Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce to your taste, and serve with toasted pita triangles.
Next Week: Brining for the Holidays