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.
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, freshwater 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 & the Middle East
In Greece & the Middle East, appetizers are called “Meze”, which may be served hot or cold and popularly includes tiny meatballs, chickpeas paste called “Hummus”, roasted eggplant dip called “Moutabal” etc.
To learn more about the different kinds of Appetizers, you can go through the introductory lesson - Appetizers for a Great Start.
Appetizer Recipe of the Day - The Beef Tacos
About Beef Tacos
The origin of Tacos is actually unknown. Some say it dates back to the 19th century in the silver mines of Mexico, as one of the first types of taco, known as “Tacos de Minero” meaning miner’s taco, originated from here.
Tacos are a famous and loved street food in Mexico, it is a corn or wheat crisp tortilla shell folded or to hold a filling. The filling may include beef, lamb, or seafood and often has salsa, vegetables, and cheeses for more variety.
The Taco as we know it today is the result of an evolution from the simple tortilla filled with meat. It gained the popularity that it has become the most known and well-loved Mexican food of all time.
Beef Tacos are composed of corn tortilla taco shells, filled with sautéed minced beef, tomato salsa, and topped with cheddar cheese. This dish is popular with children because of the contrast between the juicy beef and the cool tomato salsa with the beautiful crunch of the taco shells.
Recipe Card (to serve 4 pax)
|For the Filling|
|Beef (mince)||2 cups|
|Sweet corn kernels||½ cup|
|Onions, finely chopped half (medium)||half a bulb|
|Olive oil||3 tsp|
|Cumin powder||2 tbsp|
|Worcestershire sauce||1 tsp|
|Salt & pepper||as required|
|For the Salsa|
|Small tomato (blanched)||3 pieces|
|Olive oil||1 tsp|
|Red onion (finely chopped)||half a piece|
|Jalapeno peppers (finely chopped)||1 piece|
|Garlic (Minced)||1 clove|
|Lemon juice||half a piece|
|Coriander leaves (chopped)||2 tbsp|
|Salt & pepper||as required|
|Tomato puree||2 tsp|
|Taco shells||6 pieces|
|Coriander leaves||for garnish|
|Cheddar cheese (grated)||1 cup|
Method of Cooking
1. Blanch, peel, deseed and then finely chop the tomatoes and set aside.
2. To make the Salsa: In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and sauté onion, garlic, tomato puree and chopped tomatoes for 2 minutes.
3. Take off heat, spoon mixture into a bowl. Add the jalapeno peppers, coriander, Lemon juice, and season to taste. Cover with cling film and set aside in the fridge.
4. Using the same sauté pan, on high heat, heat olive oil, add garlic, onions, and sweat.
5. Add the minced beef, cumin powder, season with salt & pepper. Sauté minced beef until golden brown; stir occasionally.
6. Reduce heat, add corn & Worcestershire sauce. Simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Take off heat, adjust seasoning, and stir in coriander leaves.
8. Heat Tacos for 15-20 seconds in the oven, or for 10 seconds in the microwave.
9. Assembling the Tacos: Spoon the beef filling into the Taco shell, add the cheese and gratinate in the oven, using the top grill (on medium heat) until the cheese melts.
10. Remove from the oven and top with chilled salsa and garnish with chopped coriander.