8 American Recipes Made With International Flavors

New things can be scary, even if it’s just a couple of new things on your plate or in the kitchen. Expanding the realm of food you eat and make, though, makes mealtime much more exciting, so it’s worth making the effort to do just that. Integrating international flavors into beloved classics is a great way to gently introduce new tastes to your palate. Here are eight recipes you know and love, but with a twist. You may just learn to like something new!

1. Chimichurri and Flank Steak Pizza

pesto

Pesto | Source: Thinkstock

Try this herbaceous, garlicky Argentinean sauce instead of the classic tomato sauce on your next homemade pie. It’s normally served over steak, so Dan Whalen of The Food in My Beard topped his pizza with grilled flank steak. Chimichurri is pretty unassuming under a pile of cheese and on top of a large piece of bread, so it’s a great introduction to the strong flavor. When you fall in love with it, branch out to recipes using it as a sauce for grilled meats, where it will really shine.

Ingredients:

Chimichurri

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • ½ bunch fresh basil
  • 5 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

Meat and marinade

  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ¼ cup red vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 flank steak

Pizza

  • 1 dough, homemade or bought
  • Preferred pizza cheese

Directions: Combine marinade ingredients and marinate steak for at least an hour. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit with a pizza stone or baking sheet.

Combine herbs and garlic in a food processor. Turn on and slowly stream in olive oil until it resembles pesto; it should be loose but not too oily.

Grill the steak for 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium doneness. Put aside and allow to rest while you cook the pizza.

On a stretched pizza crust, sauce with chimichurri and top with cheese. Slide into the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until done.

Slice steak against the grain into thin strips and top the pizza when it comes out of the oven.

2. Korean Barbecue Chicken Wings

Korean barbecue chicken wings

Korean barbecue chicken wings | Source: iStock

We all love spicy buffalo wings and sticky, sweet, southern barbecue wings, but there’s another world to barbecue sauce: Korean barbecue sauce. It’s similar to a teriyaki wing sauce, but with subtle differences. These wings are a little spicy, a little sweet, and heavily aromatic with garlic and ginger. They’re salty from the soy sauce and balanced with the acidity from rice wine vinegar. They’re just really good.

This recipe from Eat the Love has kiwis in it, which will seem strange, but it adds sweetness and, thanks to the enzymes in the fruit, helps tenderize the wings. Don’t marinate for too long, though, because those enzymes can turn tender into mushy.

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium-size garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 1-inch knob of fresh ginger root, grated
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 4 scallions, sliced into ¼-inch discs, greens ends included
  • 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoon white granulated sugar
  • 2 medium kiwis, peeled and diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds chicken wings, broken down into drummettes and flats, tips discarded or saved for stock

Directions: Combine the garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, green onions, sesame seeds, sugar, kiwis, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in a medium-size bowl. Stir to combine, then spoon out ½ cup of the marinade and reserve it in a small bowl; cover and refrigerate.

Place the chicken wings in a gallon zip-top bag and pour the marinade into the bag. Squeeze out as much air as you can in the bag and seal it. Massage the chicken to make sure the marinade reaches every chicken piece. Place the bag in a large bowl and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, massaging and turning the bag every now and then if you have the chance.

To bake the wings, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and spray or coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking oil. Place the wings on the baking sheet, discarding the marinade in the bag. Bake for 30 minutes, then flip each wing with a spatula and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Once the wings are done, remove from the oven and let rest on the pan. Take the reserve marinade out and puree it in a food processor until smooth. Pour the marinade puree into a medium-size nonstick pan. Cook the marinade for about 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat until it darkens in color and thickens. Remove the wings from the pan and place them in a large bowl. Scrape the reduced marinade out of the pan and onto the chicken and gently toss. Serve immediately.

To broil the wings, place wings on a rack of a broiler pan. Broil 4 to 5 inches from the heat, for about 10 minutes per side, or until the chicken is cooked through. While the chicken is broiling, take the reserve marinade out and puree it in a food processor until smooth. Pour the marinade puree into a medium-size nonstick pan. Cook the marinade for about 2 to 3 minutes on medium heat until it darkens in color and thickens. Once the chicken is done, baste the chicken with the reduced marinade. Serve immediately.

To grill the wings, preheat the grill for high heat. Take the reserve marinade out and puree it in a food processor until smooth. If the grate on your grill is widely spaced apart, you might want to skewer the wings together so they don’t fall through, or use a grill basket. Place the wings on the grill and cook 8 minutes per side, until the wings are cooked through. Baste the wings as you grill them with the pureed marinade. Serve immediately.

3. Thai Red Curry Mac and Cheese

mac and cheese

Mac and cheese | Source: iStock

The velvety blanket of cheesy sauce in a comforting dish of mac and cheese is a wonderful canvas for interesting flavors. The Thai red curry paste in this recipe from Food Network makes it really easy to perfectly spice the dish without adding too much heat. It’s full of aromatic herbs and spices like lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger), and fresh red chiles. It definitely adds a number of layers of flavor to the classic mac and cheese base. If you fall in love with the flavors, try making a quick and easy curry with it and a can of coconut milk.

Ingredients:

Mac and cheese

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar Thai red curry paste
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups cream
  • 8 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

Crumb topping

  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions: Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Salt generously, and then add the pasta and cook to box instructions, usually 6 to 7 minutes. Drain.

In another large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and continue whisking until it deepens in color and releases a light toasted aroma, about 1 minute.

Whisk in the Thai red curry paste, and when fully combined, pour in the milk and cream. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer until the mixture thickens, whisking occasionally, about 5 minutes.

Off heat, whisk in the cheeses and stir until melted. Add the pasta and toss to combine. Turn your broiler on. Toss the panko with the melted butter and season with salt and pepper. Pour the mac ‘n’ cheese into a broiler-safe casserole dish, sprinkle with the bread crumb mixture, and broil until browned, about 1 minute.

4. Sopa de Lima

Chicken Tortilla Soup, stew

Source: iStock

There’s nothing quite as good as a big bowl of chicken soup. Whether it has noodles, rice, or matzo balls, it’s not only comforting but good for you and your immune system. This Food Network version from Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula adds a little bright acidity with lime juice, a bit of heat with a jalapeño or serrano pepper, and an extra layer of savory sweetness with a chopped fresh tomato. It’s a great twist on the classic American chicken soup, whether or not you add freshly fried tortilla strips.

Ingredients:

  • 8 corn tortillas
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 8 cups chicken stock or canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 3 limes, juiced; about ⅓ cup
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions: Cut the tortillas into ¼-inch strips. Heat the oil in a medium skillet and, when very hot, fry the tortilla strips, in small batches, until lightly golden and crisp, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain. Season with salt, to taste. Repeat until all tortilla strips have been fried. Set fried tortilla strips aside and reserve the vegetable oil.

Transfer 1 tablespoon of the reserved cooking oil to a large saucepan and add the chopped onion, celery, carrot, and jalapeño pepper. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and Mexican oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato and season lightly with salt.

Cook, stirring, until the tomato is softened and has released its liquid and the mixture is nearly dry, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and chicken breasts and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a slow simmer and cook until the chicken is just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove chicken from the soup and set aside until cool enough to handle. Allow soup to continue simmering.

When the chicken has cooled a bit, shred into bite-size pieces and return to the pot along with the green onions and lime juice. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through and the soup is piping hot. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and ladle the soup into wide soup bowls, with a handful of tortilla strips added to each bowl. Garnish with the avocado and cilantro and serve immediately.

5. Burnt Miso Butterscotch Topping

miso

Miso | Source: iStock

This butterscotch shared by Lucky Peach is used by Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar in its deep-fried apple pie, but it makes a great ice cream topping or spooned over cheesecake, too. If you’re not familiar with miso, take a look at our article explaining the many uses of this savory, salty, vitamin-rich soy paste. Here, it adds an awesome depth to the sweetness of the butterscotch, creating a salted caramel-esque flavor. Don’t be afraid to add a little drizzle to your classic apple pie!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shiro miso
  • ¾ cup mirin
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 12 tablespoons softened butter

Directions: Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the miso out in an even layer, about ¼ inch thick, on a baking sheet lined with a Silpat.

Bake for half an hour, or until the miso is well browned and quite a bit burnt around the edges. Remove it from the oven, let it cool slightly, and scrape it into a blender.

Add the remaining ingredients to the miso and blend until smooth. You can add a splash of water if the mixture is too tight. Store in the fridge, and warm on the stove or in the microwave before serving.

6. Mediterranean Lamb Burger

lamb burger

Lamb burger | Source: iStock

You may have already delved into Greek and Italian flavors, but there’s more to the Mediterranean! Next time you fire up the grill, try something a little new and make lamb instead of beef burgers. These burgers from Chow feature harissa, which is a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste made from roasted red bell peppers and various hot chilis. It’s a great substitute for any hot sauce, and the harissa mayo here gives the lamb burgers a fantastic kick. The briny, salty feta and cucumber round out the Mediterranean flavors.

Ingredients:

Mayo

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup harissa

Burgers

  • 1½ pounds ground lamb
  • ¾ cup finely chopped yellow onion (from about 1 medium onion)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for oiling the grill
  • 4 kaiser rolls, sliced in half horizontally and toasted
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 16 (¼-inch-thick) slices English cucumber
  • 4 romaine lettuce leaves

Directions: Place the mayonnaise and harissa in a medium bowl and mix to incorporate. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day.

In a large bowl, combine the lamb, onion, cilantro, egg, garlic, and spices. Using your hands, mix until just combined. Divide the meat into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into an even ½-inch-thick patty that is about 1 inch wider in diameter than the kaiser rolls. Using your thumb, make a shallow 1½-inch-wide indentation in the center of each patty to help the burgers cook more evenly. Transfer the patties to a plate and refrigerate while you prepare the grill.

Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high. When the grill is ready, use tongs to rub the grate with several layers of paper towels dipped in vegetable oil.

Place the patties on the grill, indentation-side up, close the grill, and cook undisturbed until grill marks appear on the bottom, about 6 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the patties, close the grill, and cook until the juices run clear and the patties are firm to the touch, about 6 minutes more. Remove to a clean plate and let rest in a warm place or tent loosely with foil for 5 minutes.

Spread about 1 tablespoon of the harissa mayonnaise on each top and bottom roll. Divide the feta among the bottom halves and top the feta with 4 cucumber slices per burger. Place a lamb patty on each bottom half and top with a lettuce leaf. Close with the roll tops and serve immediately.

7. Green Chile Biscuits with Chorizo and Chipotle Gravy

Green chile biscuits with chorizo and chipotle gravy

Green chile biscuits with chorizo and chipotle gravy | Source: iStock

Biscuits and gravy is a quintessential southern dish, and it’s easy to embellish with smoky Mexican flavors. The green hatch chiles and black pepper in the biscuits add a fresh-tasting pep that complements the spicy, meaty smokiness of chorizo sausage and chipotle peppers. Make this recipe from Matt Bites for breakfast, brunch, or dinner — you’ll be happy you did.

Ingredients:

Biscuits

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup diced green chiles
  • ¼ cup of Parmesan in ¼ inch cubes or chunks
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk

Gravy

  • 6 ounces pork chorizo
  • 2 chipotles in adobo, minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk, warmed

Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients; whisk or stir to combine. Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Make a well in the center, place chopped chilies and cheese in the well, and pour buttermilk over. Stir until it comes together and makes dough.

Turn the dough out onto lightly floured surface and, with floured hands, give it a quick knead — a few times should do it.

Pat the dough into a 1-inch thickness and cut out biscuits with a 2½-inch cutter. Keep reshaping and cutting the dough until you have 9 biscuits. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a Silpat and place in hot oven till puffed up and golden brown, around 15 to 18 minutes.

While the biscuits are in the oven, make the gravy. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, cook the chorizo and chipotles together, about 5 minutes. Add the butter and stir until melted; add flour and cook 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and continue to stir. Bring to a boil so that the gravy will thicken. Serve over biscuits.

8. Curried Chicken Pot Pie

curried chicken pot pie

Curried chicken pot pie | Source: iStock

This chicken pot pie is the combination of a traditional Indian chicken curry with vegetables and potatoes. The myriad of warm spices in a hearty casserole under a delicious pastry crust from this Cooking Light recipe may give you the confidence to order something new the next time you’re out for Indian food!

Ingredients:

Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup vegetable shortening

Filling

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 cups diced peeled baking potato
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • ¾ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ pounds skinned, boned chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1½ cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • ¾ cup frozen green peas, thawed
  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ cup cream cheese
  • Cooking spray

Directions: To prepare crust, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife. Combine ¼ cup flour, water, and vinegar in a small bowl, and stir with a whisk until well-blended to create a slurry. Set aside. Combine ¾ cup flour and salt in a large bowl, and cut in shortening with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add slurry to flour mixture, and toss with a fork until moist. Press the mixture gently into a 4-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap; cover with additional plastic wrap. Chill 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

To prepare filling, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add curry; cook 2 minutes. Add potato, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and chicken; stir fry 3 minutes. Add broth, mushrooms, peas, raisins, salt, and pepper; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Combine cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir in cornstarch mixture and cream cheese; cook 1 minute or until cream cheese is melted.

Spoon the filling into a round 2-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Roll the crust into an 11-inch circle, and place over mixture. Cut 6 slits in top of the dough to allow steam to escape. Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly around the edges. Let stand 10 minutes.

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