However, the recipes can be complicated -- small food often requires a lot of attention to details and, before you know it, you get stressed out over last-minute details and the recipes.
But Susur Lee, chef and owner of New York's Shang Restaurant and Zentan in Washington, D.C., showed on "The Early Show" a few of his best appetizer and cocktail recipes. The main dish he wants to de-mystify? Lettuce cups. They are elegant, sophisticated, delicious, and assembled by the guests as needed. He also has spring rolls and two signature cocktails that you are going to want to try at home.
Chop-Chop Chicken Lettuce Wrap
2 chicken breasts, skinless and chopped
2 Tbsp Shallot (minced fine)
1 Tbsp Garlic (minced fine)
1 Tbsp Ginger (minced fine)
1/2 cup Zucchini (small dice)
1/2 cup Daikon (small dice)
1/4 cup Red Peppers (small dice)
3/4 cup Celery (small dice)
1/2 cup Carrot (small dice)
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped basil
8 oz Hoisin Sauce
3 Tbsp Bean Paste (chopped)
1 head Iceberg or Bibb lettuce (separate leaves the size of a soft taco shell, place into serving bowl)
6 oz almonds (chopped)
1/8 c scallions (minced fine)
16 pcs Soft White Bread
Stack two pieces of soft white bread on top of each other and roll together with a rolling pin till compressed. Cut into 2in by 4in pieces. In a large sauce, pot fill halfway with canola oil and heat to 350 degrees.
Fry bread in oil, till golden brown (should puff). Dig out middle of bread to create bread boats. Set aside.
In a large sauté pan under medium high heat place 3 oz canola oil and cook bean paste for 30 seconds. Add shallot, ginger and garlic and sweat for 2 minutes (no color); next, add chicken and cook for approx. 3 minutes. Then, add zucchini, daikon, red peppers (reserve 1T each for garnish), celery, basil, and carrot. Sauté at high heat for 2-3 minutes. Next, add just enough hoisin sauce to coat the vegetables and chicken and continue to sauté. The mixture should still be dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
When guests want some, have them spoon mixture into bread boats and garnish with red pepper dice, scallions, almonds and wrap with lettuce. Place on serving platter.
Shrimp and Mango Rolls "Shooters"
Makes 16 pieces
1 pound Shrimp (peeled, deveined, chopped)
2 1/2 tsp Corn Starch
1 1/3 tsp Sesame Oil
1 tsp Scallions
1 1/3 oz Ginger (Minced Finely)
1 1/3 oz Bamboo Shoots (caned drained, chopped finely)
2 ea ripe mango (small dice)
1/2 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Kosher Salt
4 leaves Mint (cut into very thin slices)
16 spring roll skins (available in most supermarkets)
Orange Teriyaki Sauce
8 oz Teriyaki sauce (store bought)
4 oz frozen orange concentrate (defrosted)
1 1/2 Tbsp orange zest
3 Tbsp corn starch + 3 Tbsp cold water (combine)
In a stainless sauce pot combine teriyaki sauce and orange concentrate and bring to a boil. Thicken with cornstarch mixture and add orange zest. Cool and set aside.
In an electric mixer, combine shrimp, 1 1/2 tsp corn starch, sesame oil, scallions, ginger, bamboo shoots and mix until gluten is visible (approximately 6-7 minutes on medium high speed). Remove from machine and fold in mint.
Combine 1 teaspoon corn starch with just enough water to make a thick paste. Set aside.
Lay out spring roll skin with a corner facing you and fill with 1/2 ounce of shrimp mixture. Place 3 cubes of mango on top of shrimp mixture, fold the left and right corners over the mixture then pick up the corner facing you and roll away from you (make sure to roll it as tight as you can get it). Seal with corn starch paste. Repeat step until mixture is finished. Make sure you cover the spring rolls to prevent from drying.
In a sauce pot fill halfway with canola oil and heat to 350 degrees. Place rolls and fry for approximately 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Place on paper towels.
Serve in shot glass with orange teriyaki sauce at the bottom.
For Lee's cocktail recipes, go to Page 2.
1.5 oz Vodka
.5 oz Canton Ginger liqueur
.5 oz cucumber puree
Splash of club soda
Mix the ingredients, and ice, in a cocktail shaker and serve in chilled martini glasses.
6 thai basil leaves (or regular basil)
1/2 plum, cut
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz wildflower honey
1 1/2 oz Jack Daniels
Muddle basil leaves, honey and lime juices. Add ice, Jack, and cut plums. Shake and pour over new ice in rocks glass