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Bored Palette! Need new recipe ideas.

First, I have to start off by saying that this truly a first world problem and I am very grateful for all the food that we're able to eat. Having said that, my dilemma these days is feeling like I'm cooking the same things over and over again, and even when there's some variation it's basically the same flavor profile. When I go online to find inspiration it seems I come across more of the same ole. It's tedious to wade through all of the same stuff on sites like Tastespotting to find those few dishes that stand out from the rest. Recipe sites like Epicurious or even Google show mostly popular dishes at the top of the search results.

I have to think, given how vast and diverse the food world is, that there are a large number of dishes out there I haven't tried. Just thinking about all the possible combinations of ingredients and cooking techniques! Lately, I've started doing more ethnic cooking but finding recipes beyond those top 5-10 popular dishes for each ethnicity is hard (at least finding good ones is hard). There's got to be more to Chinese cuisine than stir fries or more to Mexican food than tacos and enchiladas.

So I'm asking fellow Chowhounders for recipes that they think 80% of the cooking population haven't tried. These would be recipes for weeknight dinners that can be prepared in about an hour or so. They would have to be online recipes as we don't have the budget to buy anymore cookbooks. My wife and I are pretty decent cooks and since we live in a major city we have access to a variety of ethnic grocery stores. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Have you looked through the What's for Dinner threads on this board? There are a lot of great ideas in them for not-everyday dishes folks around here are cooking.

    Also take a look at the COTM (Cookbook of the Month) threads for the main dishes. Many of the recipes are either paraphrased (to avoid copyright problems), or a reasonable facsimile of a similar dish is available online.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RelishPDX

      agree. I've made so very many new-to-me dishes that I found on the WFD threads. it's a goldmine.

    2. One better way to do this with "ethnic cooking" might be to find a devoted cookbook for a given cuisine. Not only will this tell you about more than 5-10 dishes in a cuisine, looking through it (and better yet cooking through it) will hopefully expose you to new techniques and ingredients and flavors that you'll be able to incorporate into your own repertoire, and that ultimately offers much more flexibility than just finding new recipes in a vacuum.

      Rick Bayless' Mexican cookbooks are pretty good for branching out beyond tacos and enchiladas if you'd like to do that.

      2 Replies
      1. re: lamb_da_calculus

        I like Rick Bayless a lot and a goodly number of his recipes are online.

        Perhaps OP can look at online menus for restaurants and find the more 'esoteric' dishes. But I have to say that ten recipes for each of dozens of cuisines would keep me busy for a long, long time.

        1. re: lamb_da_calculus

          Oh, and if you can't buy cookbooks you can still probably check them out from libraries, right?.

          1. re: babette feasts

            HAHAHA! Well played...well played. I didn't notice my slightly embarrassing mistake until I saw the first email notification of a reply for this thread.

            Thanks for the larb recommendation. I've had this somewhere before and remember it being tasty but never made it before.

            1. re: bayarea_longhorn

              :)

              I like a mix of fish sauce, lime juice, and something spicy. Sort of a lazy larb, definitely wakes up the palate.

          2. Here is a recipe for a dish that is memorable for tasting unlike any other. It's flavorful & I've had several requests for this recipe. In fact a woman requested the recipe just 2 weeks ago, saying she remembered how much she enjoyed being served it about 8 years ago & has regretted she never asked before, for the recipe. It's easy to make & the ingredients are readily available in any market. It is a vegetarian version of a Brazilian black bean stew. I got the recipe from a magazine called Vegetarian Times. The recipe says it serves 6.

            1 Tbs. vegetable oil
            1 large onion, chopped
            2 medium cloves garlic, minced
            2 medium sweet potatoes (1 to 1 1/4 lbs.), peeled and diced
            1 large red bell pepper, diced
            14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
            1 small hot green chili pepper, or more to taste, minced
            2 (16-oz.) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
            1 ripe mango, pitted, peeled and diced
            1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
            1/4 tsp. salt

            In large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is golden, about 3 minutes.
            Stir in sweet potatoes, bell pepper, tomatoes (with liquid), chili and 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender but still firm, 10 to 15 minutes.
            Stir in beans and simmer gently, uncovered, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in mango and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in cilantro and salt. Serve hot.

            1. The public library is a great place to browse and borrow cookbooks.
              My rec is to borrow one of the Ottolengi books and cook the ought it starting with the meatballs.

              When I am in a slump I go to a market, an ethic market or better yet a farmers one and be inspired by the food.
              To me there is nothing more palate awakening than the freshest veg , meat or fruit simply prepared, or prepared off the cuff with my favorite ingredients.