Global Cuisine

greencurry.jpgI cannot go to a Thai restaurant without ordering green curry. It is by far my most favorite Thai dish and I've eaten so many versions that I can almost say I'm an expert in its flavor. Something about the creamy coconut sauce with slight sweetness, the hot chiles, the green color, and verdant flavor makes me crave this dish very often. Curry, a generic term for dishes in South Asian cuisine, is known for its use of distinctive spices combined to form unique flavor. Most Westerners assume that curry is a single spice or a mixture of them. Although this is somewhat true, the word curry, an Anglicization of the Tamil word khari, references the nature of the dish: a stew, sauce, or gravy; not the spices. The colonizing English happened to call all saucy South Asian foods by the name curry, and the name stuck.

The most well-known curries are Indian and Thai, but the combination of ingredients differ greatly. Thai curries use a vast array of fresh herbs and vegetables such as cilantro, kaffir lime leaves, and lemongrass to lend incomparable aroma. The base of the green curry comes from the all-important paste, which combines lemongrass, lime leaves, shallots, garlic, ginger, cilantro, chiles, and the spices coriander and cumin along with the particularly Thai ingredients: fish sauce and shrimp paste. All of the Thai curries begin with a similar flavorful paste, but of course a red curry will begin with a red paste, and a yellow with a yellow. The "green" ingredients create the unforgettable fresh flavor that is the base for green curry.

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shrimpsaladThis just screams summer and Mexico! Doesn't a tropical Mexican Riviera vacation sound good about now? A few margaritas, a couple of these salads....I'm in...who wants to go?

My oldest boy loves shrimp, I mean, really loves shrimp. And he loves taco salad. In fact, I'm not sure which one he loves more. So I decided to combine these two loves and make something summery and delicious. I think I succeeded, since he gobbled this up in no time at all. It was an epic gobbling, let me tell you.

I love watching people eat and enjoy the things I make....it's like a weird voyeur thing, but I can't help it.

I first cook the shrimp in this buttery-lime-cilantro sauce. I slice the shrimp lengthwise before cooking because it doubles the amount of shrimp bites in your salad. And, the shrimp cooks a little faster so there is a less chance of overcooking it.

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greeksaladThe most traditional Greek salad recipe, and the kind of Greek salad you will usually encounter in Greece, does not typically include lettuce, but is more a bowl of raw chunky vegetables with a little olive oil and lemon juice.

The flavors of this dish just get better and you can store leftovers and use with grilled meats or in sandwiches made with pita pockets.

The rich, zesty vinaigrette gets great authentic flavor from the fresh oregano, and is further enhanced by the fresh mint and parsley.

Marinating the onion and cucumber slices in the vinaigrette helps tone down the raw onion in the salad.

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ImageFor those who love Mexican food, there's nothing better than finding a good Mexican restaurant to frequent regularly. That's because foreign cuisine can seem tough to tackle at home, especially the unique Mexican. But sometimes the craving hits without notice and you want something more than salsa and chips. For me that's when I get the urge to make authentic Mexican food at home. I have yet to master the cuisine, but rather than hit the fast-food chain with the bell or an expensive restaurant, I make my favorite dish in my own kitchen. Chilaquiles is the dish I've found really easy and successful for a beginner in south-of-the-border cooking.

Chilaquiles, a Mexican dish purposely invented to repurpose day-old tortillas, is also the perfect dish for using leftover Thanksgiving turkey or chicken. Made up of fried tortillas, shredded chicken, tomatillo salsa, and cheese, it can resembles a lasagne when layered in a casserole dish. But for faster results, chilaquiles can also be put together in tortilla stacks and placed in a hot oven just to melt the cheese and warm it through. When I first tasted chilaquiles at a restaurant, it hit my comfort spot immediately. Once I found a recipe by Daisy Martinez, I knew I had to try making it for myself. It's a dish that can make a person or—if you're willing to share—an entire family very happy.

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szichuangreenbeansIf you've ever taken the time to read a Chinese takeout menu closely you may have noticed it has the dishes organized by regional cuisine such as Cantonese, Hunan, and Sichuan. Most Chinese restaurants try to have a wide offering of its cuisine to appeal to many different tastes. Those who love spicy food know to choose a dish from the Sichuan page. This cuisine is characterized by an abundance of heat in many forms, including dried chilies, chili sauce, and tongue-tingling Sichuan peppercorns.

Sichuan food will have you sweating, your eyes watering, and your mouth numb. It isn't for everyone but it's worth trying for the adventurous eater. Now and then even I like to subject myself to such spicy torture by suffering through a dish like a trooper. One of my favorite dishes to do just that with is stir-fried green beans because it's quick to make when the craving strikes.

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