This sweet and sour fish sauce dip is made spicy with chopped chilies and garlic, while fresh-squeezed lime or lemon gives it a sour edge. Called nuoc cham or nuoc mam cham in Vietnamese, it is the ubiquitous condiment of the Vietnamese table. Drizzle it over grilled meat set atop thin rice noodles tossed with shredded vegetables for refreshing fare, perfect for summer.
Tempeh, made from fermented soybeans, is an Indonesian specialty. Its firm, nutty texture makes for good grilling in these satays. Serve on white rice with the sauce on the side, a cucumber and vinegar salad, and hot sauteed green beans.
This unusual combination of ingredients makes a salad that is hearty enough to be served as an entree as well as a side dish. I always prepare this salad a day before I plan to serve it to ensure the flavors are combined. A word of caution though, the salad seems to increase in heat the longer it sits. So make the dressing a little on the mild side or the salad may become too hot to enjoy.
Pork is a preferred meat in China and Southeast Asia, so it is not surprising to find it combined with chiles and traditional Asian seasonings. The marinade is also excellent with chicken and fish. Serve the grilled pork steaks with jasmine rice, sweet and sour vegetables, and a green papaya salad.
Lemon grass makes a nice houseplant and a continuous supplier of lemony stalks–simply root a stalk in water and then plant it in a pot. Put it in partial sun and it will grow and separate. This marinade is excellent with chicken and fish. Warning: the marinade tastes so good your will want to drink it. Go ahead, call it lemon grass tea. Use this marinade for poultry, fish, or pork, or as a dressing for a salad. Dave serves it over noodles and calls it a pseudo-curry.
Beef short ribs are rich, and they make for great winter dishes. Here the short ribs are braised in a caramel sauce spiced with chilies, star anise, and five-spice powder until fork-tender. Green beans are added to the stew and cooked until just tender. The succulent meat and green beans are served over the noodles with some of the braising liquids. If you like, serve Japanese pickled ginger on the side for a delicious counterpoint to the sweet and spicy flavor notes.
The longer it rests, the tastier this dish will be, so braise the ribs the day before you plan to serve them, if possible. I tend to serve less noodles than normal with this hearty dish. The pork butt (shoulder) makes for an equally delicious variation.
This is a typical Calabrian dish, but it is also a favorite in some Puglian villages. In Italy, and maybe in some Italian specialty stores in the U.S., the wild onions can be found in jars in oil. They have a very distinctive taste, like (unedible) daffodils, which are botanically a close relative. Most likely though you will have to use scallions.