Global Cuisine

easyenchiladasWe love good Mexican food in the Salzman household. Soft tacos are a weekly staple on our dinner table (using leftover grilled steak or roasted chicken, sauted with a little bit of onion and garlic), served with fresh salsa, sliced avocado, and if time permits, pickled onions.

One of our favorite neighborhood haunts is Monte Alban. Isaac not only eats his entire meal (enchiladas mole), but he polishes off half of Levi’s “Camarones a la Diabla”. We all crave the diabla sauce and if I would let him, Isaac would “lick” his plate clean. We save that behavior for the privacy of our own home!

When ever I find my kids getting bored with my cooking, I ask all of them to list their five favorite meals. Enchiladas always gets a collective thumbs up and is a meal that rarely gets the, “oh no, not that again…I don’t like that anymore”. Enchilads seems like a labor intensive task, but it really isn’t. With a little bit of prep and organization, this meal can be whipped up in 30 mintues or less.

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fishtacosPanko crusted fish tacos, with a Chipotle-Lime Mayo and Chipotle Spiced Corn....sheer yumminess. Best of all was the Wild Alaskan Halibut I received from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute

I'm not sure I could compare the halibut I received to any I have had before. It was a beautiful 2- pound fillet, perfect for making into fish tacos. I have always loved halibut, the texture is just right, and it has a sweet mild flavor, which makes it perfect for a family meal. No complaints of a fishy taste from the munchkins. 

Eating seafood from a sustainable source is also something we should all be practicing. Alaskan seafood is some of the most sustainable fish in the world, ensuring continued healthy fish for generations to come.

I sliced my halibut fillet into fairly even pieces, breaded them and pan fried them. This size works perfect in a soft taco shell and these also double as a fish stick if you have little ones who are not fond of tacos.

Dinner comes together so easily when you have amazing food to work with, wouldn't you agree?

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noodles-e1400604479450My improvisational style of cooking involves templates. Especially when it comes to cold noodles. I hate thinking of them as “salads” since that implies a “dressing” that is at the forefront. Instead, they’re bowls of cool freshness, or fresh coolness. When it’s hot I want a flavor bomb, some spice and not a lot of fat. That fat part? Speaking not from a diet perspective but from a mouth feel. Hot weather eating cries out for something clean, with a defined flavor profile. Not sludgy. So I tend to look toward Asia for flavor influence.

These spontaneous noodles come together with whatever I happen to have on hand. This time I used rice noodles which are perfect for hot weather since you don’t really need to boil them. I bring water to the boil, add the noodles and turn off the heat. The rice noodles soften in a matter of minutes. Drain them and squeeze out more of the water and you’re ready to toss them with the Nuoc Cham. I like tossing the noodles in the sauce then putting them in the refrigerator to cool and soak while I prepare the rest of the ingredients. You can also prep the veggies and let them marinate in the sauce while you cook the noodles.

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sam-gye-tang-opener.jpgStuffed and sated without the ability to eat even one more bite – or so I thought – we headed to Hwang Hu Sam Gye Tang restaurant to experience Samgyetang, a hot bowl of bubbling chicken soup made with one very important ingredient: ginseng.

Ushered upstairs to the second floor of this elegant and glistening airy restaurant, we were seated next to a vast window overlooking a rainy busy side street below. We passed walls that were lined with photographs of celebrity and everyday patrons, leaving the menu to appear even that much more sparse. Hwang Hu Sam Gye Tang doesn’t offer too many things other than chicken and ginseng soup, a fact I’d later forget about once the scorching hot liquid touched my tongue.

The chef and host suggested that they bring our food to the table before cooking purely for photographic purposes. “Please, do not go through any trouble” I said to our guide, watching my translated words make their way to the chef. The chef wouldn’t have it any other way, his face said everything I needed to know. Once a boiling hot soup is brought to our table I would see none of the ingredients; steam and bubbles would make sure of that. I acquiesced and like a good guest I let them set out bowls of food to photograph.

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squashcurryYou can find a version of lentil stew or soup in almost every country. It's a dish that's popular because it's hearty, filling, and inexpensive. Some would call it food for the poor, but lentils stand for more than just that. Many cultures give it significant meaning, equating the small legumes with coins, symbolizing prosperity. Besides that, lentils are very nutritious, delicious, and perfectly satisfying on a cold fall day.

The cuisine of Morocco inspires this dish, which features a classic combination of lentils, chickpeas, and squash. Ras el hanout, the Moroccan spice blend, as well as saffron, give this stew its exotic flavor. Translating to "top of the shop," Ras el hanout is a special spice blend that is traditionally sold in markets by spice mongers, each of whom has his own secret mix, which can include cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, and other spices. It's like the Moroccan version of the Indian spice blend Garam Masala.

The choice is yours—make this recipe into a stew or soup. The ingredients give you the option of using more or less stock, depending on how thick or thin you want the consistency. Since this recipe uses vegetable stock and contains no dairy, it's completely vegan. But all you omnivores, don't be afraid, it's packed with protein and fiber, so you won't even miss the meat. But if you can't live without meaty flavor, use chicken stock.

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