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Mar 31, 2008 08:30 PM

Looking for easy international recipes

I enjoy American and Italian food, but I'd rather make Asian or African recipes. For some reason, eating spaghetti and meatballs evokes a feeling of contempt brought on by familiarity.

Problem is, I am a novice in the kitchen. I can bake and fry a few dishes, but beyond that, I'm lost. If you have any suggestions for books, sites or blogs I could visit to increase my cooking chops, it would be much appreciated.

Ideally, I'd like the recipes to be healthy, but that's not a firm requirement. I just want to make exotic food that someone besides myself might want to eat.

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  1. I'm culinarily challenged, so my Chinese mother taught me a very simple and delicious recipe for Teriyaki Chicken. I use boneless chicken thighs and like my meat extra tender so after I wash and dry it I pound it with a tenderizer (looks like a hammer) on both sides.

    marninade per lb. of chicken:
    3 TBSP soy sauce
    3 TBSP mirin
    3 TBSP water
    1 TBSP sugar
    1 small piece of kelp (optional)
    1 tsp. cornstarch dissolved in water

    To make marinade, combine ingredients (except for cornstarch) in small pan and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer 5-10 minutes, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn. When it's thickened, reduced to about a half, add the cornstarch/water and simmer some more, another 5-10 minutes until very thick (again, keep an eye on it!). Wait for the pan to cool off or put it in a larger pan w/cold water if you want it to cool faster.

    Marinate chicken in the refrigerator overnight or for at least 2 hours. My mother likes to use a knife or fork and stab tiny holes in the chicken. Then fry in sautee pan or skillet; during cooking add the extra marinade (fry about 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on thickness - cut gently with a knife to make sure all the pink is gone).

    For a simple stirfry dish, sautee chopped garlic and a few slices of ginger in sesame oil. Add a bag of frozen vegetables (I usually use the asian stirfry). Add 1-2 tsp soy sauce and 1-2 tsp oyster sauce and sautee for about 8-10 minutes.

    I'll usually have brown rice with it - bring 2 cups water to a boil, add one cup brown rice and simmer with the lid shut for 45 minutes.

    1. This is an easy, delicious and pretty healthy recipe for grilled/broiled yogurt marinated chicken:

      1. I have had great luck with recipes by Charmaine Solomon. Lots of Asian and Indian, but other cuisines as well. They are easy to follow, authentic and tasty. She's got a bunch of cookbooks out but I think some of her recipes are online as well.

        1. Definitely get your hands on a Claudia Roden cookbook. Her recipes for Arabic food are healthy, flavorful and not too complicated. By playing with Middle-Eastern spices, you will develop your palate and your ability to understand layered flavors.

          "Memories of a Filipino Kitchen" by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan is a fantastic introduction for Americans unused to Filipino cookery. It is easily accessible and offers a wealth of simple and healthful dishes like adobo (meat braised in aromatic vinegar), sinigang na isda (salmon and vegetables in sour tamarind broth) or kilawin (fresh fish cured in palm vinegar and spices).

          1. Though they both are somewhat time consuming, they are so delicious and so much fun to make. I hope you enjoy! Two of my very favorites are:

            Dolmades (Stuffed Grape Leaves) - Middle Eastern

            Summer Rolls with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce - Thai

            (And for a little Latin-inspired libation, you've gotta try: