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20201021 Dim sum stock
Dim sum is a weekend must in many parts of the world. Image: IStock/gyro via AFP Relaxnews.

With curfews being one of the measures implemented in cities in France, Italy’s Lombardy region and Spain to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, brunch may be the go-to occasion for fans of a leisurely food experience. We look at ideas from around the world for this convivial meal that took off in the 1980s, but that dates back to the previous century, according to the British.

Hong Kong-style dim sum

A brunch should not only combine sweet and savory flavors, it should also serve the culinary must-have of Anglo-Saxon culture that is pancakes in some form or another. Not all brunches have the same taste throughout the world, and in Hong Kong, it is customary to serve one of the timeless classics of Chinese cuisine: dim sum.

These distinctive bites of Cantonese cuisine are not just different kinds of dumplings. It encompasses a variety of small dishes, from steamed bites stuffed with pork or shrimp, to spring rolls and rice noodle rolls, as well as rice cakes, crepe rolls or egg tarts for the sweet part.

Tortilla or tamagoyaki instead of eggs Benedict

In Spain, brunch tends to draw on the tapas culture to create the menu. As such, it is a good idea to shake up those good old eggs Benedict or the ubiquitous poached egg. Make way for the tortilla, with its profusion of potatoes pan-fried with eggs.

Or why not start making tamagoyaki? This typical Japanese omelette, which requires a certain amount of skill to roll it with the utmost delicacy, is a must for any izakaya (a kind of Japanese pub). Unlike the French omelette, very thin layers of eggs are cooked one after the other and then assembled little by little in the form of rolls. The result is a set of ultra-moist bites that can be combined with herbs, chopped spring onions or even tarama.

Swedish crepes instead of pancakes

If you are tired of traditional pancakes, French toast and crepes, you just have to look a bit further afield to find a different recipe, as the pancake is a food that cultures the world over all have variations of. While some recipes are complicated like the Moroccan “puff pastry” pancakes, known as m’semen, others are more within the reach of Sunday cooks, starting with Swedish pancakes.

These are based on the principle of whipped egg whites incorporated into a base of butter and water brought to a boil as for puff pastry. Egg yolks are added, topped off with whipped cream. In short, pure decadence for a bit of effort.

Soda bread when in a hurry

Wholegrain, rustic, spelt, rye, baguette. Bread is a must on the brunch buffet. When you are doing a completely homemade menu, a recipe can be useful, especially if you are not yet used to bread making. In Ireland, soda bread is a bread that rises quickly thanks to baking powder or baking soda instead of fresh baker’s yeast. It is the baking soda that gives the bread its name.

To give character to this loaf and to help the crumb rise, use fermented milk like buttermilk, which can easily be found in supermarkets. In one hour, you will be able to take a loaf of bread prepared in a standard cake tin from oven to table. The recipe is simple and within the reach of even the least experienced cooks. CC


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