It’s just over a month until Christmas, and the silly season is just about to throw itself upon us like a five year old with ADD wanting to see Santa. I don’t know about you, but the six weeks leading up to Christmas are busy ones for me. I am being entertained, I am doing the entertaining and then there are the normal “oh crap, Christmas is descending on me like a freight train” preparations.
I’ve teamed up again with the lovely people at Wither Hills wines to bring you some inspirational canapé recipes. I don’t tend to initially think of pairing Pinot Noir with canapés. As I had already used their Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc with my two courses in under 20 minutes midweek entertaining menu, I thought why not.I am a bubbles girl when it comes to canapés, but many, including my partner, will reach for a red. This is where a Pinot Noir is perfect to start the evening. It is lighter red than some of the full bodied heavy hitters out there such as Shiraz or Cab Sauv. The Wither Hills Pinot Noir is still full of rich brooding aromatics of dark wild berry fruits, seductive bright morello cherry and fresh brambly wild berry compote. It has an alluring toasty spice with subtle earthy undertones. The key word there folks is subtle, it is a very easy and enjoyable wine to drink.
The challenge I set for myself was to create three canapés that would pair with this gorgeous wine. I do love a challenge!
To be honest it was quite easy, Pinot Noir matches very well with Asian dishes. I also wanted to stay away from the most well known pairing of duck and game meats.
As I love Japanese food I wanted to play around with flavours traditionally found in that cuisine. Japanese flavours are quite subtle and well balanced, and would normally be a little lost with a red. By using the flavours I love so much and adding some zing from fresh ginger, a little punch from ground white pepper and the toasty flavours of sesame seeds, these canapés are able to stand their ground alongside a glass or two of Wither Hills Pinot Noir.
I’m a sucker for seared scallops on the half shell. Firstly they always present wonderfully to guests, secondly and most importantly, they taste great. These scallops are tossed in a buttery sake sauce and then placed on a bed of finely sliced fresh ginger and green onions.
The ginger brings such a lovely bite to the dish and balances out the butter. Just make sure that you don’t over cook your scallops or you will end up with something that resembles rubber. The last thing you want is guests playing ping pong with the hors d’oeuvres.
Why serve dumplings when you can serve inside out dumplings? These are a twist on the good old gyoza. Yes deep frying is involved, but it is worth it. All that is need is an inch or two of oil in the bottom of a wok if you don’t have a fryer.
Traditionally gyoza are a mixture of cabbage and pork mince. I have omitted the cabbage and replaced the vegie component with shelled edamame (green soybeans). They add a little more texture and interest.
When fried wonton wrappers puff up to perfection. They become quite addictive actually. The filling, or in this case topping, has a lovely white pepper heat, which lingers a little, and matches wonderfully with a Pinot Noir.
Sesame Chicken Balls
- 500 grams chicken mince
- 1 garlic clove crushed
- 2 spring onions shallots, finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons tonkatsu sauce*
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ cup black sesame seeds
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- ¾ cup Japanese mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon hawashabi sauce* or substituted ½ teaspoon wasabi paste
- 1 teaspoon yuzu juice* or substituted ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- Pre-heat oven 180°C (360°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- In a large bowl place chicken mince, garlic, spring onions, breadcrumbs, tonkatsu sauce and soy sauce. Mix ingredients very well and completely combined. I find mixing by hand the best method. As chicken mince can become sticky I use a disposable rubber glove.
- Place black and white sesame seeds on separate plates.
- With wet hands roll heaped teaspoons of chicken mixture into balls. Roll chicken balls in sesame seeds.
- Place balls on lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Serve with yuzu wasabi mayonnaise.
- Yuzu wasabi mayonnaise: Place Japanese mayonnaise, hawashabi and yuzu in a small bowl. Mix until completely combined. Taste, and add addition yuzu or hawashabi if desired. Keep in fridge until sesame chicken balls are ready.
- Tonkatsu sauce: Is a Japanese vegetable and fruit sauce that is similar to a chutney that has had all the lumpy pieces removed (fruit etc). It is readily available in Asian supermarkets and quite a few standard supermarkets.
- Hawashabi Sauce: Is a wasabi sauce, is similar in consistency to a pesto, made from chopped wasabi leaves, salt and oil. Can be purchased online from Chefs Armoury.
- Yuzu Juice: Yuzu is a tart citrus and the juice can be purchased in bottles at Asian supermarkets.
Three relatively easy canapés, all with a Japanese influence, to suit everyone. They all have their own little twist and can be enjoyed just as easily with a glass of bubbles or Pinot Noir.
Belly Rumbles would like to acknowledge its partnership with Wither Hills in regard to this post.
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