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Belly Up

Short on ideas for delicious Christmas meal menus at home? EL brings you a list of popular Christmas delicacies from around the world.

by / Published: 11 Dec 2012

Belly Up

There are plenty of opportunities to shine with new flavors and interesting meals, whether you choose the traditional way or a more exotic one. But first and foremost, as a host, embrace all of the meals you’ll be serving. It will provide you with an excellent chance to show off your culinary skills.

What can be more traditional than a typical French Christmas menu? Start with a delightful pan-seared foie gras, followed by a lobster served with a scallop mousse and you have your guests salivating. For the main course, why don’t you give a try to a haunch of venison, served with celery mash and chestnut puree, covered with a red wine reduction?

To end the meal on a high note, what other option than a gigantic cheese platter, followed by the traditional Christmas Yule log?

Even if Japan is not the first destination that comes to mind when we relate to Christmas, there is still an array of festive dishes that could be served during the year-end celebration. Take a simple Miso Soup. However, tweak it a little bit by adding some gelatin in it. Take a wine glass and pour some soup to the halfway line. Let it rest for a couple of hours in the fridge. Carefully put an egg yolk on top and then pour some soup to cover it up. Add some chives, and you will have your guests wondering and mesmerized.

Sukiyaki is an all-time favorite amongst Japanese families to entertain guests. You can pre-grill the meat and serve it while it’s hot and let your guests do their own simmering in the soy sauce-based soup.

Another popular variant to entertain guests the Japanese way is the okonomiyaki, or a type of pancake, that consists of batter and cabbage. Selected toppings and ingredients are added which can vary greatly (anything from meat and seafood to wasabi and cheese). This variability is reflected in the dish's name, "okonomi" literally means "to one's liking".

In Japan, there is no festive dinner if it’s not concluded by the Oriental version of the sponge cake, or Kasutera although it has a European ancestor. The origin of Kasutera is believed to have come from Portuguese missionaries who introduced European sweets to Nagasaki.

If Japan is not really celebrating Christmas, it is another story in China. The most recent official census enumerated 4 million Roman Catholics. If you decide to embrace the Chinese way of celebrating, you will have to use your skills and cook a Peking duck. Cooked since the Imperial era, it is now considered one of China’s national foods. The dish is prized for the thin, crisp skin, with authentic versions serving mostly the skin and little meat, sliced in front of the diners by the cook. Specially bred ducks are slaughtered after 65 days and seasoned before being roasted in a closed or hung oven. The meat is eaten with pancakes, scallion, and hoisin sauce or sweet bean sauce. However, to open your guests’ appetite, why don’t you serve them thinly sliced pork chops marinated in an orange reduction? To finish on a lighter note, try your hand at a steamed clams dish in beer sauce. Light and easy, and compared to the traditional white wine sauce, it will have your guest wondering what that little spark on the tongue is. Finish it all up with a couple of almond cookies as a sweet note.

Let’s head now to the Indian sub-continent. Your success is guaranteed if you decide to throw on the table dishes such as Pork Vindaloo, chicken or lamb koftas, accompanied with palak paneer. Add in a basket of naans, garlic, cheese, coriander or plain, and your Indian meal is sorted…

How could we talk about Christmas menus without mentioning Italian cuisine? Let’s get everybody salivating with some roasted shrimps, served on a bed of mashed potatoes and tomato sauce. The tweak here? Use a Bloody Mary recipe and let it reduce for a while… if we are talking about a family kind of meal, a minestrone has to follow the seafood. A heartfelt dish, you can make it really heavy or just clear. It is just up to you to add pastas or not. For the main, let an osso bucco slowly cook for ages before serving it with a combination of vegetables and fresh pastas. Tagliatelle are a must here! And for the sweet note of the menu, serve a homemade tiramisu and you are bound for success… Just do not forget to be over generous with the Kahlua or Tia Maria.

You wish to give an English twist to your Christmas menu? Start with a smoked trout salad. Add some roquette. The sourness of the leaves and the smokiness of the trout will get your diners’ taste buds begging for more. After this simple but all-time success appetiser, put on the table the traditional roast. However, favor a nice shoulder of lamb. Get it butterflied by your local butcher, as this will release all its flavors while slowly cooking. And why not accompany it with a butternut squash on top of the fresh vegetables? End up your English celebration with a bit of originality. There is no written rule about the infamous Christmas pudding! Try your hands on a chocolate and caramel mousse! But if you do, make a lot of extra, as second helpings will be compulsory!

These are only suggestions of menus, and not recipes. Each recipe has to become personal and tweaked the way you wish…
 

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