To accompany the batch ofMoroccan Chicken Skewersand flat bread I wanted to make a few sauces that would go along with the main courses as well as complement each other. The three I settled on was a refreshing Mint and Cilantro sauce, spicy Harissa, and a cooling Yogurt Lemon sauce. They complemented the chicken and flat bread and were perfectly balanced with each other. These different sauces allowed me to play “choose your own adventure” of sorts which made eating fun. Not only did the types of food and sauces matter in the experience, but the order played a key role in it too (not exactly a new idea in the historical record of food but a fun thing to experience at home by accident).
Since each sauce had a different “purpose” it stands to reason that each sauce affected the other ingredients differently as well. The easiest comparison to make would be dipping the chicken in the yogurt sauce vs. the harissa sauce. The yogurt enhanced the lemony flavor of the chicken and helped cool off its spiciness. The Harissa sauce is made of chilies and instead invigorated the chicken’s spicy seasoning. This seems obvious now, but I really wasn’t expecting how different the “experiences” would be. I came to notice that I enjoyed pairing the chicken more with the yogurt and mint sauces, and the flat bread with the harissa. Later I realized I probably did this to help balance things out a little bit in terms of spiciness. Although I also spooned generous portions of mint sauce and yogurt sauce on the bread as well so who knows really. This was one of those meals that I had a lot of fun making and eating. I loved all three sauces and I still can’t decide on a favorite!
Cranberry sauce is my favorite condiment/side dish on Thanksgiving. I really like the more creative tricks to the traditional recipe. My favorite so far has been a Gingered Cranberry Sauce, but I have tried a variation with Pinot Noir which was also very tasty. This cranberry sauce is infused with pure pomegranate juice (no cocktails please) and the combination is pretty much perfect. The pomegranate juice has a slightly sweeter flavor than the cranberries so it’s a great way to make the sauce sweeter without adding additional sugar.
When I came across the recipe for corn esquites salad I took one look at it and knew I had to give it a try. This salad is basically Mexican elote which is roasted corn on the cob seasoned with cayenne, butter, mayonnaise, and cotija cheese. The corn in this recipe is cut off the cob and pan roasted until the kernels char and caramelize. Then the corn is mixed with the elote ingredients, garlic, lime, jalapeno, and cilantro. I decided to kick it up a notch and add sliced tomatoes and avocado to the salad. It was so tasty! The combination of ingredients was sweet and spicy from the corn and jalapenos yet creamy and tangy from the lime juice and cotija cheese. It ended up being the perfect topping for tacos!
Hummus is one of those foods that is easy to pick up at a grocery store and not really give it a second thought. That’s what I did for a long time until I decided to explore Lebanese food a little more. Years ago, my family would get take-out from a local Lebanese deli and since then I have loved that food. Since I had been craving Lebanese food I decided to make my own version of the deli’s menu.
Hummus is so simple; I couldn’t believe I had never made it before! All you need is a blender or food processor, 2 cans of chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon juice. Tahini is just a paste of ground sesame seeds and can be found at asian stores or whole foods. Now that I have made hummus it would be tough to go back to store-bought!
Chili pastes are probably my favorite condiment so I knew once I read about Sambal Oelek I had to try it. I really enjoyed the Thai Red Curry Paste I made a while back as well as my usual go tos, Moroccan Harissa and Korean Gochujang. I was looking forward to trying out a new chili paste and thankfully this new one did not disappoint in the least! Sambal Oelek is a Southeast Asian chili paste that varies from country to country but generally consists of red chilies, shallots, ginger, garlic, lime and lemongrass. The mixture is then ground up and can be added to soups, noodle dishes, meat marinades, etc. The paste was very spicy but had wonderful flavor. I loved the combination of the sweet, spicy and citrusy flavors. I have a feeling this will go well with a lot of different dishes!
I recently came across a recipe for chipotle cherry salsa and I was automatically intrigued. The combination of sweet, spicy and smoky made me so excited to give it a try! The only time consuming part was removing the pits from four cups of cherries. It turned out to be well worth it as the salsa was everything I thought it would be: smoky/spicy from the chipotle and sweet and fruity from the cherries. There’s also a hint of balsamic vinegar that adds another dimension to the salsa. It was a combination that worked out great for the Steak Tacos.
Before making this recipe, I questioned using fish sauce in a way that didn’t involve heating it up before eating. I had never eaten fish sauce “raw” but I thought I would give this recipe a shot. Nuoc Cham is a simple dipping sauce made with chilis, garlic, lime juice and of course fish sauce. When all of those ingredients combine it results in a surprisingly mild sauce (and no food poisoning!). It was perfect for the grilled lemongrass chicken and I bet it would be great with spring rolls too.
I came across a recipe for this Vietnamese-style cashew dipping sauce over at Steamy Kitchen. It looked awesome so I knew I had to give it a try. I ended up doing a few things differently from the original recipe but it turned out really well! You could easily change the sauce’s flavor by using peanut butter to use with other recipes. I used chili oil and sriracha to change things up a bit and I thought it tasted great! My favorite part was the combination of the garlic and hoisin sauce with the cashew butter. It was a match made in heaven!
Tapenade is a ground mixture of olives, capers, and garlic. The ingredients are mixed together with olive oil until they form a paste. I thought tapenade was an Italian food but it turns out it comes from southern France. Sometimes anchovy paste and herbs are added to it as well depending on the region. Usually it’s served on bread or eaten as a condiment but I thought it would be great on a sandwich. I really liked the flavors of the tapenade and it was even better on the Grilled Eggplant Panini.
There’s this great Mexican restaurant nearby that serves black bean salsa with corn chips before the main course. I have been wanting to recreate this salsa because it’s hard to stop eating it. The salsa is easy to throw together and has great flavor. It works nicely as a condiment for chips or in tacos, burritos, tostadas, etc. The spiciness can be dialed down by adding fewer jalapenos and cayenne or increased by adding serrano peppers which are quite a bit spicier. The corn provides an element of sweetness and the white and green onions a good amount of texture and crunch. I think the recreation of the restaurant’s salsa was a success because once again it was hard to put the bowl down and save room for dinner!