Appetizers are dishes that we serve prior to the main course to whet our appetites and also to set the right tone for the main meal.
‘Appetizer’ specifically refers to building an appetite. Hors d’oeuvre, another word for Appetizer, literally means “outside of the masterpiece”.
The varieties of appetizers are limitless. They could be preparations of raw or cooked, marinated meats, fish or vegetables served hot or cold in small portions. They require little to no preparation, even simply served as roasted nuts, brined or raw cut fruits or vegetables.
Here are some of the most popular Appetizers around the world...
Appetizers in Italy are called “Antipasto” or “Antipasti” means “before the meal”, these include a selection of marinated mushrooms, artichokes, sliced salamis, smoked sardines, stuffed olives and roasted red peppers.
Appetizers in Spain are called “Tapas”. The actual meaning of “Tapa” is to cover or lid. In Spain this has now become a style of food and is popular the World over. Tapas are a wide variety of hot & cold preparations of olives, cheese, tomatoes, sweet and chili peppers, maize (corn), potatoes etc.
Tea sandwiches as they are popularly known are traditional to British cuisine. Other common appetizers are based on ham, cheese, eggs and other ingredients. Some common appetizers are, Angles on Horseback, Devils on Horseback etc.
A popular appetizer presentation method in Sweden is called, “Smorgasbord”, meaning bread & butter table. Smorgasbord is popularly made of shrimps, pickles, meatballs, asparagus, mushrooms, smoked salmon, fresh water cod and caviar.
The Japanese term for Appetizer is “Zensai”, which may include, simple soups, sushi, sashimi and other items that might be steamed, deep fried, vinegared or dressed.
- Greece & Middle East
In Greece & the Middle East, appetizers are called “Meze”, which may be served hot or cold and popularly includes tiny meat balls, chickpeas paste called “Hummus”, roasted eggplant dip called “Moutabal” etc.
Types of Appetizers
1. Cold Appetizers
a. Canapés –
These are toasted or fried, rectangular or circular shaped slices of crust less bread croutes or crackers topped with a wide variety of seasoned creams, cheeses, vegetables, meat, fish and poultry. Canapés are also referred to as bite sized, open-face sandwiches.
b. Dip –
A dip or dipping sauce is a common condiment for many types of food. Unlike other sauces, instead of applying the sauce to the food, the food is typically dipped, or used to pick up the sauce (hence the name). Dips are used to add flavor or texture to a food, such as pita bread, dumplings, crackers, cut-up raw vegetables, fruits, seafood, cubed pieces of meat and cheese, potato chips, tortilla chips, and falafel.
2. Hot Appetizers
a. Fritters –
These are a mixture of ingredients dipped in a batter and deep-fried. These are generally fried just before service and the presentation of Fritters are classically done on a serviette or absorbent paper towel.
b. Skewered Food –
Brochette is a French term for skewered food, while similar terms for the same from other countries are Shish Kebab, Satay, or Souvlaki. These are normally marinated seafood or meat on skewers along with colorful vegetables. Served grilled or broiled with butter and sauce.
c. Baked Appetizers –
These include Bouchees, Mini Quiches, Tarte Tatin, etc.
d. Fried Appetizers –
These include Samosas, Spring Rolls, Calamari Rings, Meatballs, etc.
e. Steamed Appetizers –
Dim sum, Dumplings and Steamed Buns are some common examples.
Appetizer Recipe of the Day - The Stuffed Portobello Mushroom
About Stuffed Portobello Mushroom
Portobello mushroom is of Italian origin and gets its name from Portobello, a small town in Italy. It has a very memorable, rich flavor and a meat-like texture that enables it to be substituted for other meat-based proteins thus making it a delicious vegetarian option.
Portobello Mushroom retains its flavor even after cooking, which makes it work well in the soups, stews, baked or grilled. However, it is best used when stuffed with ingredients such as fresh herbs, variety of cheeses, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and onions, due to its large size.
The Portobello mushrooms are stuffed with a stuffing made with sautéed garlic, mushroom stems, sundried tomatoes and fragrant herbs, topped with cheese and breadcrumbs for a delicious flavor and crunchy texture.
Recipe Card (to serve 4 pax)
|Mushroom (Portobello Mushroom)||4 pieces|
|Olive oil||for brushing|
|For the Stuffing|
|Garlic (minced)||4 cloves|
|Rosemary (fresh / dried)||a sprig|
|Oregano (fresh / dried)||1 tsp|
|Parmesan cheese (grated)||¾ cup|
|Sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)||10 pieces|
|Mozzarella (diced)||1 cup|
|Bread crumbs||1/2 cup|
|Olive oil||2 tbsp|
|Salt & pepper||as required|
- Preheat the oven to 180˚C.
- Wash the mushroom and pat it dry.
- Remove brown gills from the undersides of mushroom caps using a spoon, and discard gills. Remove and chop the stems.
- In a sauté pan heat olive oil and sweat garlic then add mushroom stems, sundried tomatoes and herbs, season lightly with salt & pepper (cheese and sundried tomatoes are salty). Take off heat add parmesan cheese stir, and set aside.
- Brush the tops of the mushrooms with olive oil
- On a baking tray, divide the mixture evenly into the 4 mushroom caps and mozzarella cheese then top each with the breadcrumb and drizzle with olive oil.
- Put it in the oven and bake until cheese is melted for about 10 minutes.
- Serve hot.