It’s amazing the number of people I personally know that have never expanded their food horizons… like at all. I have had occasion within the past year to introduce two separate friends (Kristi and Kory) to Thai food. Thai food! And these are not youngsters, they are middle aged and above. Crazy, huh. They certainly had opportunity, as we are now a town that has many different kinds of high quality restaurants. As for me, I love food and am always looking to expand the pleasure of my taste buds. And this is a good thing. It also expands your cooking horizons. Even one of the most famous southern soul food cookin’ meat and three restaurants in Nashville uses wasabi powder, a Japanese powdered horseradish, in their greens and people love it. Certainly not a typical Southern ingredient, but it makes Arnold’s greens… cornbread sopping good. I currently am finding myself on a mission to expand my personal field of ingredients to improve and generally inform new iterations of the old standard southern fare. Maybe I am bored, but also I have recently developed a new aversion to garlic, in any form, fresh, cooked, powdered. Doesn’t matter, it makes me quiet ill. So, as I like lots of flavor, I am looking for new flavor-filled substitutions. Peppers have always been in my lexicon but I am expanding into the sweet and slightly hot category. And they are super good for you. Hungarian wax peppers are one of my choices these days, subtle back heat in your throat. I’ve used jalapenos for years in my pimento cheese. But I kinda need a little spicy something to kick my food up a notch. I’ve landed on Korean Chili paste. It has a sweet and hot spicy-ness that has to be experienced. I mix it with soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, grated fresh ginger and a little bit of honey and scallions for a marinade for chicken. I marinade it for at least 3 hours and then I grill that over coals or bake it in the oven. Wonderful with stir fried zucchini, snow peas, red bell peppers and onions and steamed rice. I think I might try it on fish or shrimp next.
I think the thing that is most important is to think fresh, buy fresh and local and stay out of the center of the grocery store. All the fresh stuff is around the edges. All the processed, stuff is in the middle. I know it is hard sometimes to cook from scratch every night of the week, but it is so important for your own health as well as that of your family. And once you go fresh, all that other stuff starts tasting really bad.
Try this marinade its really good and as you are mixing take into account what your taste buds enjoy. This is enough for about 4 chicken breast or 4 to 5 pork chops or 4 to 5 firm fish fillets or 2 to 3 dozen shrimp peeled and cleaned.
1/2 cup soy sauce ( you can use low salt )
2 tablespoons Korean Chili Paste ( more if you like it hot )
3″ grated fresh ginger ( more if you like ginger)
1/4 cup toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (it helps to tenderize the meat, it also helps to emulsify the oil into the marinade)
1/4 cup chopped scallions
Wisk all that together and pour into a large zip lock bag with your meat of choice and marinate for at least 3 hours. I have done this in the morning and come in from working and then cooked it. It works great!
Try something new, a new food, a new hat, a new way of thinking.