By Shannon Lim
When hosting a dinner party, who does not want to prepare a simple meal with little planning and yet look impressive? Definitely me! I’m still dreaming about Spanish cuisine and my vacation.. hence a tapas party. Hosting a Spanish tapas feast is a fun way to let your family or guests mingle and “graze”. If you love Spanish tapas; have had plenty of these small appetizers on your travels or in local restaurants, don’t be intimidated by the number of dishes to prep.
A tapas party is actually pretty easy to throw together. Tapas are Spain’s appetizers and are eaten anytime of the day or night. Most of the dishes can be prepared earlier and kept chilled until ready to serve. Making bigger portions of these tapas can make a meal on their own.
It’s important to serve a variety of hot and cold dishes, as well as different flavors and textures – from crunchy or soft to salty or marinated.
Choosing 3 cold tapas that only need slicing or to be arranged on a serving dish will minimise preparation time.
– Assorted Spanish cheese
– Assorted Spanish cured meats
– Marinated olives (store bought or make your own in just 5 minutes)
– Marinated anchovies
– Stuffed roasted red peppers (store bought or stuff plain peppers yourself with tuna or anchovies)
– Salad dressed in vinegar and olive oil (simple green salad is always served on a Spanish table)
For the hot dishes, I chose 2 very popular tapas – Patatas 2 ways (potatoes in brava sauce and allioli) and Gambas al Ajillo (garlic shrimp). I added a side dish of Catalan style spinach. These 3 dishes are quick and easy. Other great tapas dishes:
– Grilled Prawns / Squid / Sardines
– Fried Padrón peppers
– Spanish Omelette
I nailed 3 hot dishes within one hour and the cold dishes just need to be arranged on the serving dish. Instead of the traditional recipe of frying potatoes, I roast them instead. To make the potato crispy, I learnt the trick to steam the potatoes till fork tender, then roast them on pre-heated the baking tray with olive oil. While the potatoes are steaming, cook tomato sauce for 10 mins. Make allioli and prepare salad. After potatoes are ready, place them onto hot tray, bake for 10mins and flip them over for another 10mins. Cook the shrimp and spinach just before serving dinner as they only take 5-10mins each.
Cold dishes can be served first while the guests chat and later add the 3 hot dishes, or serve them all at once when everyone is seated.
To Complete the Meal
In Spain, wine is commonly served at midday meal, dinner and while tasting tapas at bars. Spanish wine has become very popular around the world in the last 15 years, so finding a bottle of good quality, reasonably-priced Spanish wine, especially from Rioja, should be an easy task and no Spanish meal is complete without it. Rioja is the richest region in production of “food” wines in Spain, with a unique personality and an exceptional aptitude for aging.
Like most people, I don’t know much about which wine to choose and am quite intimidated when buying wine. The beauty of Rioja wines is that they pair well with everything from fish to veggies to meats and cheeses, are an excellent choice for a day-to-day wine. So you don’t have to worry over what type of wine to get when you serve a bunch of different dishes ranging from fish to meats. The Crianza (young) red wine from Rioja that I chose was a great choice because it complimented all the tastes and textures of our tapas feast perfectly. I’m sure you’ll be as delighted as I was, to discover that many good quality Rioja wines are at exceptional prices.Print
Shannon's kitchen is her playground and creative outlet, where she loves to experiment with recipes. As a Malaysian, her food influences are mainly Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine but her curiousity in other culture lead to cross cultural cooking. On her blog JustAsDelish.com, she pursue her mission in creating healthy and delish food.