When thinking of an Italian alternative to tapas, bruschetta is probably the first thing to pop into your head. One slice of toasted bread, a bit of olive oil, some tomatoes, garlic and basil: you don’t have to look any further to serve up something yummy. But did you hear about the Venetian version of finger food already? They’re called cicchetti and can be found on every street corner in Venice. The range of cicchetti is very large yet the most ‘common’ ones are probably tiny sandwiches with some kind of seafood spread – although meat versions and veggie alternatives aren’t difficult to come across. They’re the perfect accompaniment to a glass of Aperol Spritz and don’t be shy to order – or make – as many as you want.
The term mezze doesn’t refer to one single region or even country. Mezze are small appetizers which can be found all over West Asia and the Balkans, from Greece to Lebanon and everything in between. Which also means the kind of dish you’ll get depends on which region you’re in. In Turkey, for example, you’ll find mezze like çiğ köfte (traditional meatballs with raw meat and bulgur) and dolma (stuffed vine leaves). In Greece on the other hand, mezze include saganaki (grilled cheese), melitzanosalata (eggplant salad) and olives. And in the Balkans, you’re talking kulen (paprika flavoured sausage) and Shopska salad. If you’re looking into making mezze, the best thing to do is to choose one regional variety and buy a cookbook specialized in those, since the variety of dishes is so great.
Maybe you know them as jiaozi (the original Chinese version) yet today we’ll be talking about the Japanese gyoza. They’re basically dumplings filled with meat, vegetables and surrounded by a very thin kind of dough. Depending on where exactly you eat them, there are three different variants: pan fried or yaki gyoza, boiled or sui gyoza and deep fried or age gyoza. We personally prefer the pan fried version yet of course all depends on your taste. And so does the sauce you’re serving them with, whether you go for soy sauce (sweet or salted), a ginger option or something spicier. It’s all up to you. If you’re making them at home, you can go for pre-made gyoza or you can make them from scratch. If you’re choosing the second option (which we’d recommend), try finding some pre-made dough at your local Asian supermarket in order to make things a little easier.