Amuse bouches have been around for many years and although they disappeared for a bit, they are back and better than ever! After having my first hands-on experience being served an amuse bouche, I wanted to talk more about what they are exactly and why they are served in many fine dining establishments.
This post contains affiliate links. You can read my disclosure here.
Amuse bouche history
Amuse bouche is a French term which literally translates to “mouth amuser”. It is a small complimentary dish, hors d’oeuvre, or “pre-starter”, that is served before your main course. It is usually consumed within one or two bites and is meant to start off your dinner.
The history of amuse bouches originated with the French when chef’s wanted to let the flavors of fresh produce shine rather than masking them with sauces and such.
Chef’s also used this opportunity to showcase their creativity, knife skills and cooking techniques with the one goal of creating a single all-encompassing bite.
The way to pronounce amuse bouche is, “amuze boosh”. Click to hear the pronunciation.
What is the difference between a canape and an amuse bouche?
Canapes are types of hors d’oeuvres that are typically served on top of a small piece of bread, toast, puff pastry, or cracker with a topping and garnish. They are served in multiples usually at fancy events or cocktail parties and meant to be eaten with your fingers.
An amuse bouches is a dish (or dishes) that is served as a small appetizer preceding dinner. They are most common in a fine dining restaurants.
Amuse bouches are meant to be eaten in just one or two bites in an attempt to stimulate and tease the palate to want more. They are not ordered by the patron but rather selected by the chef and given “free” or complimentary at no extra cost.
They are meant to spoil guests while allowing them to indulge in uniquely assembled bites that are packed with flavor.
When dining at a 5 star restaurant in Philadelphia a few years ago for my birthday, I experienced my first, “amuse bouche”.
I immediately thought, wait, I didn’t order this…
After a few minutes, I realized it was complimentary. It most definitely made us feel special and excited for the next course.
How to prepare an amuse bouche
When it comes to amuse bouche, there is only one rule.
Keep it small.
The point is not to fill your guest’s tummies but to “entertain” or excite their palates in anticipation for what’s to come.
Many amuse bouches are smaller portions of a larger meal that are presented in a creative manner. They can range from foods such as a deliciously flavorful broths to mousses to shrimp to cured meats.
Serve with an apéritif
Amuse bouche are usually consumed with an apéritif which is an alcoholic drink taken before a meal meant to simulate the appetite.
Here are some aperitif cocktails you might like.
Amuse Bouche Spoons
Amuse bouche are often bite sized and served inside a special “soup spoon” like the ones in these photos.
Here are some great amuse bouche spoons you can get off of Amazon!
These spoons are great because they sit on their own and hold a sauce neatly. This way, you can prepare them in advance and store them safely in the fridge without spills! Plus, they are super fun to eat from!
Amuse Bouche Recipe Ideas
Serving amuse bouche is all about bringing the flavor. You can use shooters, spoons, skewers, or anything you like to serve your pre-course appetizer on. Get as fancy as you want but make sure to do all your prep work ahead of time so assembling your amuse bouche is quick and flawless.
Here are some delicious examples of amuse bouches that may inspire you:
- Pickled Baby Beets
- Ahi Tuna Tartare
- Thai Shrimp Salad
- Scallops with Pistachio and Lemon
- Smoked Salmon Cucumber Rolls
- Figs with Bacon and Chili
- Lobster Toast
- Champagne Shrimp on Endive
- Panko-Crusted Goat Cheese with Cucumber
- Salmon Bites
- Chilled Tomato Soup
- Butternut Squash and Sausage Spoons
- Conghiglioni Vongole Surprise
- Cucumber Mint Shooter
- Mini Canapé Toasts With Sweet Cheese
- Mini Caesar Salad Parmesan Cheese Cups
- Shrimp Tempura Boats with Sweet Chili Sauce
- Creamy Zucchini Alfredo Roll Ups
- Maple Bacon Butternut Squash Skewers