Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Belgian Endive with Kani and Cheese

It is fail-proof appetizer,  delicious, yet simple and straightforward. These little boats of endive are filled with cheese and flavorful japanese-style crab imitation sticks called kani sticks.

Blog's Category: Healthy, Hors D'oeuvre, My Own Fast and Easy, Seafood, Vegetarian


Appetizers are my favorite course. At a restaurant, I often order two appetizers, instead of entree, or entree and appetizer, as normal people do. IMHO, finger friendly appetizer is, indeed, ideal food. Also I love to create my own finger food like this Kani fish stick and cheese stuffed endive.

Belgian endive is ideal vessel for finger food - its shape, crispy juiciness and neutral taste was created by nature to deliver delicacies right to your mouth :)  There can be endless combinations for filling. Here is recipe for one I made recently and was very pleased with.

Couple words about kani fish sticks. It is much like your regular fish sticks, also know as crab or lobster imitation made of various types of fish. Although kani fish sticks are more flavorful and can be easily pulled apart into thin long threads. This quality makes kani sticks ideal for Japanese kani salad  or, as in this recipe, creates awesome texture for filling.

This recipe is a great hors d'oeuvre, especially if you are going to serve a crowd. Placed on a shallow flat dish in a shape of lotus flower, it will make impressive plate for your feast.

What is it?

Each belgian endive leaf is filled, first, with garlic infused grated cheese, then - with a mix of chopped kani sticks, walnuts, teeny-tiny amount of mayo and puff of cayenne. Lettuce "boat" is garnished with walnut segment and some dry seaweed topping.

Taste Description

Crunchy on a bite, it will burst in your mouth with a tender "crabby" flavors of kani sticks, tangy notes from cheese, delicate heat from a pinch of cayenne and wonderful mix of textures - crispy lettuce, buttery cheese, airy kani stick pieces and small walnut bits in it. 

How to Serve

Serve right away or keep in a fridge for up to 24 hours. 

Belgian Endive with Kani and Cheese

  • 3 small Belgian endive lettuces 
  • 8 oz grated mozzarella
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • 10 kani fish sticks, thawed (they usually sold frozen)
  • 1 tbs mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup of walnut meat, chopped (save some segments for garnishing)
  •  pinch of cayenne
  •  1 tsp seaweed topping (store bought - furikake, or other type of seaweed topping)

- Cut off base of each endive lettuce and separate leaves. 

- Thoroughly mix mozzarella with garlic. Optionally, add a bit of mayo to make mix creamier. 

- In a food processor, pulse kani sticks a couple times into small strands. Add mayo, chopped walnuts and mix.

- Fill lettuce leaves, first with cheese, then with kani stick mix. Assemble them on a shallow plate in a shape of flower (see photos below). Garnish with walnut segment at the base of each leaf. Sprinkle seaweed topping on a tips of each leaf.

- Done! Enjoy with a flute of bubbly Brut:)



Try to find endives about 5" long - it will have leaves ideally sized for this appetizer. Trader Joe's has it just right. Also having red endive brings more fun to a plate and to your imaginary lotus flower.

After cutting off a base and separating couple leaves, you will need keep cutting off further to separate more leaves. Do not throw away the heart of lettuce - dip it into something and eat "on a fly" - it's wonderfully crunchy and refreshing. Danny, my son, just love it ;)

It's your choice, how full your lettuce boats are going to be. I made smaller ones fuller than bigger ones :)

I used furikake as seaweed topping. Furikake is my favorite Japanese rice seasoning. You will find it in any Asian market, somewhere in a spice, salt, pepper section. It's usually several types of furikake, I like almost all of them and use often for plain rice. In the same section you can also find nori seaweed topping in a small packets, which also can be used for this recipe.

Looks like lotus, right? Somewhat :)

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