Egg rolls are a popular Asian appetizer, but there are other intriguing options. "Asian food is generally a blend of several tastes together---sweet, sour, salty, spicy and bitter. While Western palates tend to segregate tastes, Asian cuisine emphasizes a combination of flavors and textures, often within a single dish," says C.N. Le from Asian-Nation. You will find this blending of tastes apparent in a number of Asian appetizers.
An appetizer that makes for beautiful presentation, Shumai are wonton skins that you fill with chopped ingredients and shape to look like opening flower buds before you fry them. You can fill this Chinese appetizer with meat such as chicken or pork and serve it with a sauce like soy sauce, spicy mustard or a soy ginger blend. To create a vegetarian option, use seasoned tofu and vegetables.
Similar to sushi, sashimi is comprised of raw fish. Often served as an appetizer in Japan, sashimi is sliced fish with no rice bed or roll. The fish is served so simply so that people can enjoy the true flavor. It is often served as an appetizer so the full complexity of the taste can be appreciated before other foods contaminate the palate. For decorative purposes, it is served alongside simple vegetables like daikon, a Japanese radish. Sashimi may or may not be served with wasabi.
Deep fried tofu served with a light peanut sauce is one of the most common Thai appetizers. Even those who do not usually like tofu will find this to be a great start to a meal. Pre-fried tofu cubes are available in many stores, or tofu can be deep fried at home. The peanut sauce, which combines vinegar, sugar, chili paste, cilantro and toasted peanuts, adds sweet, sour and spicy flavors to this simple appetizer.
Indonesian satay are pieces of meat skewered on sticks and grilled quickly over charcoal. In Indonesia, satay of many varieties are available from stalls on street corners and marketplaces. Satay may be made from pork, chicken, beef, lamb or tofu. For a tasty appetizer, season your satay with a sweet curry marinade and serve it with satay sauce, a blend of peanut, curry and coconut milk. The traditional accompaniment to satay is a light cucumber salad.
With so many fried appetizers, goi cuon, a Vietnamese summer roll, provides an excellent change of pace. Goi cuon is a noodle salad that you wrap in a rice sheet and serve with a light peanut sauce at room temperature. There are many options for fillers in Goi Cuon, including meat, shrimp and vegetables along with rice vermicelli noodles. For a fun serving approach, you can supply the ingredients in dishes and allow people to construct their own.