Small Bites from Around the World

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

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Dim Sum for Holiday Parties

Looking for an easy way to “cater” a cocktail party or casual gathering with tasty nibbles? If your city has a Chinatown or a Chinese restaurant, bakery or deli that features dim sum items, you’re in luck. Drop by or call ahead and order a selection of baked, fried and steamed items, figuring about six pieces per person per hour. If you like, you can round out the menu with some “filler” items, like fried rice or noodles. Reheat baked and fried items in a 250˚F oven and serve on platters, trays or a chafing dish. Reheat and serve steamed items in bamboo steamer baskets. Serve Kikkoman Soy Sauce, Ponzu, Plum Sauce and other sauces on the side for dipping. Or, try our recipe for Finger-Licking Ribs. Pork ribs are a great dim sum dish, but they’re just as good at a cocktail party or on a buffet table. A slow simmer with soy sauce, sherry and sugar makes this version extra-scrumptious!

Finger-Licking Ribs

4 pounds baby back pork ribs, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup Kikkoman Less Sodium Soy Sauce
¼ cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed

Toss ribs with 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Heat oil in Dutch oven or casserole. In 2

batches, brown ribs. Drain fat from pan; return ribs to pan and add ½ cup water,

remaining garlic powder, soy sauce, sherry and sugar. Cover and simmer, stirring

occasionally, about 1 hour or until ribs are tender.

Makes 8 servings

Next week: Small Bites from Around the World

 

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Dim Sum and then Some

The Canton region in the south of China perfected the art of dim sum, which was then transplanted around the world by Cantonese emigrants. Originally a midafternoon snack to accompany tea, dim sum is now often eaten at breakfast or lunch. Noodle dishes, steamed buns, fried or steamed dumplings, vegetables, sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, soups and even sweets all have a place on the dim sum menu. Though dim sum originated in China, the small-plate concept is popular across a wide span of global cuisines. Spanish tapas, Middle Eastern mezes, Russian zakuski all express the convivial spirit of dim sum in another language. And it’s a great idea for home entertaining—so why not offer some dim sum selections at your next cocktail or holiday party?

There are countless varieties of dim sum, with new ones invented every day. In fact, there’s a teahouse in the Canton region of China that offers two thousand different dim sum on a rotating basis! Here’s a sampling of some of the more common ones you might enjoy:

Dumplings: Savory pork, seafood or vegetable filling wrapped in tender wheat or rice flour wrappers, then steamed, boiled or pan-fried—however they’re made, dumplings are ubiquitous on the dim sum cart. Pork-stuffed pot stickers are pan-fried, then boiled or steamed until tender. Delicate steamed shrimp shumai are wrapped in a thin skin that lets the pink filling show through. Chinese chives often add flavor and color to shrimp or pork-based fillings.

Breads: Bread dough is another favorite way to enclose fillings. The stuffed dough is then baked, pan-fried or steamed. Bao (buns), made from a raised dough filled with savory char siu pork or sweet bean or lotus seed paste, are steamed until light and fluffy. Baked bao are brushed with egg glaze to make a golden crust. Pan-fried scallion pancakes are chewy and satisfying with a flaky, layered texture.

Rice Dishes: Rice and rice flour figure in many dim sum dishes. Sheets of rice flour batter are steamed and wrapped around meat or vegetable fillings, or simply rolled and topped with sweetened soy sauce. Packets of sticky rice mixed with mushrooms, chicken, shrimp and Chinese sausage, wrapped in lotus leaves and then steamed, are fun to unfold, as well as to eat. Thick congee (rice porridge) makes a satisfying breakfast.

Deep-fried Dishes: Deep-frying adds satisfying crunch to breaded shrimp paste wrapped around crab claws. The same mixture, spread on toast triangles and deep-fried, is transformed into the ever-popular shrimp toast. And who doesn’t love deep-fried spring rolls—crisp flour wrappers enclosing savory meat or vegetable fillings?

Meat: Char siu, or hoisin-marinated roast pork, fills pork bao and rice noodle sheets, enlivens sticky rice and is delicious thinly sliced on its own. Pork spareribs seasoned with soy sauce, hot chilies, garlic and fermented black beans before steaming are rich and tender. Though pork is the meat found most often in dim sum dishes, roast duck and foil-wrapped chicken are also favorites. The more adventurous diner can sample tripe, chicken feet and even duck tongues!

Next Week: Dim Sum for Holiday Parties          

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