Global Cuisine

snowpeastirfry.jpgPeas are one of my favorite vegetables to grow. Just plant them near something they can attach to and watch them emerge from the earth, their tendrils climbing and clinging, eventually bearing bulbous pods filled with green pearls. I grow two varieties: classic shell peas and sugar snap peas, which I use mainly for stir-frying. But I love them raw too. They make a nice addition to a salad. Every now and then I'll pluck one from the bush and nibble on it while I'm out and about in the garden. Snap peas are crispy, sweet, and completely edible, pod and all. For me peas are the harbingers of spring going into summer.

This stir-fry recipe features sugar snap peas paired with tender pork, all enrobed in a Thai-style sauce that is sweet, spicy, and savory. Chicken or beef would also work wonderfully well in place of pork. To round out the dish, Jasmine rice simmered in coconut water makes a nice match. The sweetness of the coconut counterbalances the heat of the chile pepper. It's also lower in fat than coconut milk but just as flavorful. This simple and healthy stir-fry comes together in literally minutes, making it ideal for a quick meal for one hearty eater or two dainty ones.

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mangolassi.jpgThis hot weather has had me craving countless summery foods and refreshing drinks, more than I can count. To keep cool I've been snacking on fruit and drinking iced teas and smoothies. Recently I was reminded of the popularity of mangoes while walking in the city on an extremely hot day. Everywhere I noticed vendors selling mangoes carved into flowers. I couldn't help but feel transported to South America where that custom is prevalent. Mangoes are a celebrated fruit throughout the world with hundreds of varieties grown in tropical climates, particularly in India from where they originate. Mangoes can be enjoyed as desserts and snacks or in savory dishes like Indian chutneys and pickles. But one of the most popular ways to enjoy a mango is with a lassi, a traditional Indian yogurt smoothie.

Lassis are very popular in India, where there are both sweet and savory versions with some including spices. Mango lassis are more common outside of India and are specialties of Indian restaurants. I always order one at any Indian restaurant because the yogurt always helps cool off my taste buds by counteracting the heat of the spicy Indian dishes. But even when I'm not eating spicy food, I still crave a refreshing lassi. It's very quick and easy to make right at home.

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misosoup.jpgMiso soup is a traditional Japanese comfort food that has gained popularity throughout the world. Here in the United States, it entered the zeitgeist along with sushi and sake when Japanese cuisine became popularized in the 1980s. In Japan, miso soup is eaten by everyone everyday and is as popular as tea. Most Westerners tend to find it difficult to appreciate miso soup, to say the least. It's just one of those foods that is either loved or hated. But for me it's a soup I've been trying to come to terms with for many years. Whenever I've had miso soup I've always hated it, but sometimes I've almost liked it. I've learned that depending on the restaurant and depending on the preparation and the paste used, miso soup can be very different.

There are three to four main types of miso paste used to make the soup including red, white, yellow, and a mixed paste. They can be made of soybeans, wheat, barley, rice, or a combination. The flavors range from very strong and salty, of red miso, to more delicate and refined, of white miso. I've become very fond of yellow miso, which is the one I use for this soup recipe. I use a brand that makes a low-sodium version, which is just how I prefer the taste. Most miso pastes are very high in sodium. I do love the umami flavor of miso, but do not like the overpowering salty taste of many miso paste brands. That's what turned me off in the first place. But making miso soup is mostly about personal taste.

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greeceThere is nothing like ordering fresh fish at a sea side tavern in Greece. It’s one of the quintessential experiences when visiting the Greek Isles. My friend Rich Campbell, who has uncanny knack for finding incredible places to eat, introduced me to a wonderful spot in Oia on Santorini called Taverna Katina in the quaint Ammoudi Port.

It’s simple, casual dining at its best. Mrs Katina oversees everything and beams with pride as guests enjoy her authentic Greek dishes. If you visit, be sure to try her tomatokeftedes (tomato balls) – a house specialty.

They offer the freshest fish, which you can choose from the display case inside the restaurant. We opted for local snapper - served whole with simple lemon and olive oil dressing on the side - and it was some of the best I’ve ever had.

If a trip to Greece isn’t in your near future, you can grill fresh snapper in your own backyard. Grilling a whole fish (head and all) delivers a richer, deeper flavor than grilling boneless fillets. If your fish are a little larger (between 1 1/2 and 2 pounds), simply grill them a minute or two longer on each side.

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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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