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TIP OF THE DAY: International Sauces On Everyday Favorites ~ Part 2 Of 3

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce
[5] Nuoc cham is the national condiment of Vietnam. Here’s the recipe from Gastronomy Blog (photo © Gastronomy Blog).

[6] Peri-peri sauce is the national condiment of Peru. Here’s a recipe (photo © Flavor And The Menu).

[7a] Romesco may be the most famous sauce in Spain (photo © Chef Aida Mollenkamp).

[7b] Muhammara, a Syrian nut-based sauce, can be used on everything from pizza to sandwiched. Here’s a recipe from Food 52 (photo © Food 52).

[8] Sambal is an all-purpose condiment from Indonesia. Here’s the recipe from McCormick (photo © McCormick).


This is Part 2 of a three-part article on 12 international flavors that can be used as sauces.

The idea is to enhance your home cooking’s flavor profile by adding international-inspired sauces to chicken, fish, meat, meat, poultry and other everyday foods.

You can make the sauces from scratch, or purchase them at specialty stores.

Thanks to Flavor & The Menu, that presents new ideas for cuisine to restaurant chefs , for the inspiration for this article.

Some are thin like marinade, others are pastes that can be thinned with broth, oil or water.
The 12 sauces include:

  • Part 1: Chermoula, Fruit Sauce, Makhani, Middle Eastern Hot Sauces.
  • Part 2: below, Nuoc Cham, Nut-Based Sauces, Peri Peri, Sambal.
  • Part 3: coming soon, Savory Caramel, Tahini, Tamarind, Yogurt-Based Sauces.
    5. NUOC CHAM

    This vinegar/fish/chile-based dipping sauce is the Vietnamese “mother sauce.”

    In Vietnam, is used with everything from pork dishes to spring rolls. It’s very adaptable beyond Vietnamese cuisine.

    This bright red, sweet and salty sauce is not too spicy, anc can be used:

  • With simple fish and seafood dishes, including crudos.
  • With grilled pork and chicken.
  • As a dipping sauce for crudités and fried finger foods (including French fries!).
  • Mixed into yogurt or mayo for a dip.
  • Drizzled over greens and grains for a dressing with a kick.
  • In a vinaigrette for cooked and raw vegetables.
  • As a general condiment.
    Here’s a terrific recipe.

    As vegan fare becomes more mainstream in the U.S., more nut-based sauces are substituted for dairy-based sauces.

    Two notable nut-based sauces are:

  • Romesco from Spain, made with almonds and red pepper.
  • Muhammara, a Syrian red sauce that traditionally sees walnuts, pomegranate, roasted red pepper and breadcrumbs. Here’s a recipe.
    These sauces work with everything, including grains and proteins. We like romesco:

  • With fish, chicken and steak.
  • With grilled/roasted vegetables, especially cauliflower, eggplant and potatoes. It’s a winner with charred cauliflower steaks.
  • On sandwiches and burgers—including veggie burgers.
  • As a dip with artichokes, crusty bread, flatbread/breadsticks, potato chips.
  • As a pizza sauce.
  • Recipe: Warm Cauliflower & Bacon Salad With Romesco Sauce.
  • Recipe: Romesco Sauce & Dip.
  • Recipe: Make a roasted vegetable sandwich with arugula, cucumber, feta, and romesco as the spread. Use focaccia if you can.

    The national condiment of Peru, peri-peri sauce (also spelled piri-piri) is made in medium to hot levels of spiciness. The more chiles, or the hotter the variety of chiles used, the hotter the sauce.

    Original peri-peri uses the African bird’s eye chile (the African word for the chile is peri-peri). Milder sauces may use only cayenne and serrano chiles.

    To a base of red wine vinegar and oil, garlic and lemon juice are added, plus other seasonings, which often include paprika or tomato paste for flavor and color, onions and herbs.

    Each company and home cook has their own recipe.

    Peri-peri is also used as a cooking sauce. Here’s a recipe.

    Peri-peri gained popularity in the U.S. through restaurants like Nando’s Peri-Peri, a South African-based chain serving barbecue chicken marinated in the sauce. Use it for:

  • A a spicier, more chile-forward alternative to sweet barbecue sauces for grilled, rotisserie or smoked dishes.
  • As a dipping sauce for breads.
  • As a bread spread for sandwiches.
  • In marinades for meats, meatier fish and vegetables.
  • On falafel, chicken shawarma, tacos and wings.
    We recently used it in a refined dish of octopus, potatoes, fennel and olives.

    As with all recipes, the only limit is your imagination.


    Sambal is an Indonesian chili sauce or paste, a mixture of different chili peppers with garlic, ginger, lime juice, palm sugar, scallion, shallot, shrimp paste. It is an all-purpose condiment in Indonesian cuisine.

    Sambal could be the next trending hot sauce. According to Datassential, which monitors food trends, menu mentions of sambal have gone up 47% over the last four years.

    Sambal’s bright, hot heat from chiles and tangy lime juice have just a touch of funkiness from the shrimp paste. It can easily move beyond Southeast Asian cuisine to global mash-ups and modern American cuisine, such as:

  • Burgers, chicken, fish and vegetable sandwich spreads.
  • Dips, sauces, marinades.
  • Eggs.
  • Fried chicken and fish.
  • Rice and other grain dishes.
  • Shellfish and meat dishes.
  • Soups and stews.
    You can start by mixing sambal with ketchup or mayonnaise for a dip or spread.

    Stay tuned for Part 3: Savory Caramel, Tahini, Tamarind and Yogurt-Based Sauces.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Hummus Bowls For National Protein Day

    February 27th is National Protein Day.

    If you don’t remember high school biology:

    Proteins are made up of chains of smaller chemicals called amino acids. The human body can’t store amino acids, so it must be obtained daily from the foods we eat.

    Protein deficiency can occur when you’re not eating enough protein to maintain normal body function.

  • It can cause muscle cramping, weakness and soreness.
  • Your body will take protein from your muscle tissue and use it as energy to support other vital body functions.
  • Studies show that one-third of adults over 50 don’t eat enough protein. Here’s more about protein deficiency.

    You know what they are, but here’s the official list:

  • Beans and legumes (such as lentils and chickpeas)
  • Dairy products like cheese, milk and yogurt
  • Eggs
  • Lean meat, poultry and fish
  • Seeds and nuts
    While vegetables don’t have as much protein as these, the higher-protein vegetables include artichokes, asparagus, avocado, bean sprouts, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, corn, green peas, lima beans, mushrooms potatoes and sweet potatoes, and spinach.
    How Much Protein Do You Need To Eat

    At a minimum, your daily consumption should include [source]:

  • Men aged 19-50 years: 3 servings
  • Men aged 51 years and over: 2 ½ servings
  • Women aged 19-50 years: 2½ servings
  • Women aged 51 years and over: 2 servings
    And by the way, if you haven’t eaten your daily quota of protein but don’t want a meal, a couple of spoonfuls of hummus from the container do the trick.

    One way to get your protein is a hummus bowl.

    Not only is hummus (made from chickpeas) protein-packed, but you can add any other protein on top of it—as well as grains and veggies.

    A bonus: You can go into your fridge, find odds and ends, and toss them them on top of the hummus. A basic template for bowl-building:

  • Hummus base
  • Topped with grains and/or vegetables (raw, roasted)
  • Topped with protein (eggs, fish, meat, tofu)
  • Topped with nuts or seeds
  • Optional garnishes: cheese, chopped scallions, dressing, fresh herbs, hot sauce, olives, pickles, spices (chile flakes, sesame seeds)
    We don’t have to look too far in our kitchen. We always have a container of hummus in the fridge, a bag of peeled hard-boiled eggs, cheeses, raw vegetables, and jars on the shelf of artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, roasted red peppers and sundried tomatoes.

    No leftover proteins? Grab a can of tuna.

    MINI-TIP: You can turn a hummus bowl into a pizza! The pizza crust or naan with everything but salad ingredients, which go on top after the pizza comes out of the oven. (Our favorite salad topping is arugula.)

    Looking at the lists above, it’s easy to conceive hummus bowls for lunch and dinner. What about breakfast?

    Here are some ideas to add to the hummus:

  • Avocado
  • Breakfast meat (bacon, pancetta, sausage)
  • Cooked spinach, summer squash or winter squash (we love the sweetness of acorn and butternut)
  • Dried fruits (blueberries, cherries, cranberries, dates, figs, raisins, etc.)
  • Lentils or a mild grain (e.g. barley, brown rice—unless you like earthy/nutty flavors for breakfast)
  • Eggs any style (including hard-boiled)
  • Fresh fruits: berries, citrus segments or whatever pairs with your other ingredients
  • Seeds: chia, flax, pumpkin/pepita, sunflower
  • Soft cheese (boursault, cotija, cottage/farmer, feta, goat, mozzarella, paneer, queso fresco, ricotta)
  • Smoked salmon or other smoked fish
  • Toast on the side
    Ready to go bowl-ing?


    [1] Hummus breakfast bowl with soft-boiled eggs, roasted cauliflower and toasted pita. Here’s the recipe from Pinch Of Yum (photo © Pinch Of Yum).

    [2] For lunch, a Greek Salad hummus bowl with quinoa. Here’s the recipe from Baked Greens (photo © Baked Greens).

    [3] Dinner time: Chicken Shawarma (or any chicken preparation) with cucumbers, feta, red cabbage and pickled red onions. Here’s the recipe from Plays Well With Butter (photo © Plays Well With Butter).

    [4] Double the protein: This hummus bowl includes roasted chickpeas, colorful veggies and Kalamata olives. Here’s the recipe from Culinary Hill (photo © Culinary Hill).





    TIP OF THE DAY: International Sauces On Everyday Favorites ~ Part 1 Of 3

    Chermoula Sauce
    [1] Chermoula, from North Africa, is spiced with cumin (photo © Off The Meat Hook).

    [2] You can serve this papaya sauce with a dessert, or spice it up to serve with fish, and meats. Here’s the recipe from A Spoonful Of Yum (photo © A Spoonful Of Yum).

    [3] Makhani is a gravy/curry flavored with chiles and spices. Here’s a recipe from My Food Story (photo © My Food Story).

    [4] S’chug, also spelled zhug, a popular Yemeni sauce (photo © Anson Mills).

    Homemade Harissa Paste
    [5] Harissa has been gaining in awareness in the U.S. Here’s a recipe to make your own harissa paste, from Slow Burning Passion (photo © Slow Burning Passion).


    Many of us eat global cuisine at restaurants, but why not dabble in them more often at home?

    A simple path is to add an international-style sauce to chicken, fish and other everyday foods.

    Flavor & The Menu, a resource for restaurant chefs nationwide, offers 12 global sauces for you to try.

    They range from mild to spicy—and of course, you control the level of heat in your own kitchen.

    We’re presenting these dozen dazzlers in a three-part article, so you can “digest” your thoughts—four sauces at a time.

    Some are thin like marinade, others are pastes that can be thinned with broth, oil or water.

    This bright herb sauce and marinade from North Africa has cumin as its main ingredient.

    It is typically ground or blended into a paste with garlic, cilantro or other herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper.

    While chermoula is often used as a sauce accompaniment to seafood in countries like Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia, it can also shine in “American” cuisine:

  • Bowls and other vegetable-based dishes
  • Marinades for meats
  • Salads dressings
  • Sauces for beef, chicken, fish, lamb, pork
  • Spreads and dips (try yogurt-mint sauce with chermoula, scallions and fresh herbs)

    Fruit adds sweetness and texture to a sauce, helping to round out richer dishes and tame those with a bit of spice.

    American and European recipes have long used berries, citrus and stone fruits to sauce both savory and sweet dishes.

    Go global and make sauces from more tropical fruits—cherimoya, guava, mango, pineapple. Season them with spices from another culture—chile, curry, ginger, lemongrass, star anise…the combinations are endless.
    3. MAKHANI

    The name is new to us, but the concept is familiar: It’s a type of Indian curry (a.k.a. gravy).

    Makhani is traditionally made by simmering green and red chiles, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, spices, nuts and seeds in plenty of butter, and then grounding or blending it into a paste.

    Thanks to a growing interest in Indian cuisine, bright red makhani sauce can move beyond Chicken Butter Masala, Paneer Butter Masala, and egg and vegetarian Indian dishes, to flavorful fusion dishes.

    Consider the sauce on:

  • Grains
  • Grilled or sautéed chicken, fish, vegetables
  • Marinara or mole alternative
  • Pasta and pizza

    As with most hot sauces used in the U.S., Middle Eastern hot sauces work across cuisines, providing lots of fusion opportunity.

    Harissa is perhaps the best known, but take a look at s’chug, with bright, acidic notes from cilantro and green chiles.

    Another hot sauce to watch is shatta, from Lebanon. It blends Kashmiri red chiles, lemon juice, garlic and chile powder.

    Perfect with Middle Eastern dishes like shawarma, these sauces work equally well with tacos, wings and more.

    In fact, how about a plate of tacos or wings with all three hot sauces for a fact-finding mission (i.e., which Middle Eastern hot sauce you like best)?

  • Part 2: Nuoc Cham, Nut-Based Sauces, Peri Peri, Sambal
  • Part 3: Savory Caramel, Tahini, Tamarind, Yogurt-Based Sauces



    FOOD FUN: Is It “Gif” Or “Jif”?

    “If you’ve ever called a .GIF a Jif, we forgive you.”

    So say Jif® peanut butter and from GIPHY, the world’s first and largest GIF search engine.

    The two brands have teamed up to settle the ongoing debate over how to pronounce GIF, the acronym for Graphic Image File.

  • JIF, i.e. GIF pronounced with a soft G (as in Germany), sounds just like America’s number one peanut butter, JIF.
  • GIF, pronounced with a hard G (as in graphic) is the computer image.
    To prove how Jif and GIF differ, Jif has created a limited run of tongue-in-cheek, specially labeled jars that are labeled Gif (photo #1) on the front.

    They are now available on Amazon at just under $10 for a jumbo jar (40 ounces), while supplies last. With a

    A collectible jar of PB? Well…after you’ve consumed the contents, you can place the jar next to your computer to hold pens…or maybe screen cleaner.

    National Peanut Butter Day is January 24th.

    National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day is on March 1st.

    National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day is April 2.

    National Peanut Butter & Chocolate Day is July 23rd.

    For more information about Jif, visit the brand website, which has many different recipes that use peanut butter.


    [1] Jif, making a point about GIFs (both photos © Jif).

    Peanut Butter On Spoon
    [2] THere are 34 spoonfuls of creamy Jif in the jar.




    PRODUCT OF THE WEEK #2: Michael Angelo’s Lasagna, Eggplant Parm, Chicken Parm

    [1] Mmm, Lasagna With Vegetables; or, if you prefer, meat sauce (all photos © Michael Angelo’s).

    [2] Have some Eggplant Parm, or the Chicken Parm if you prefer.

    [3] Check the store locator to find your products of choice.


    There are two comfort foods that we allow ourselves once a month—at a restaurant, at Whole Foods takeout and other specialty stores (Fairway, Citarella) where you’d think the store-made lasagna and eggplant parm would more than satisfy.

    Mostly, they don’t. The sauce isn’t great, the seasoning is lacking, there isn’t enough ricotta, etc. etc.

    Thank goodness Michael Angelo’s found us, and sent us samples of our favorites.

    They are our new go-to’s!

  • Lasagna With Meat Sauce
  • Lasagna With Vegetables
  • Sausage Lasagna
  • Chicken Parmigiana
  • Eggplant Parmigiana
    We did add some dried oregano and fresh parsley, but were happy to eat all of the dishes without garnishing.

    The entrées were more than cheesy: We didn’t need to grate any parmesan on top.

    The only problem is, now that we’ve discovered Michael Angelo’s, the once-a-month rule may fall by the wayside.

    There’s much more in the Michael Angelo’s line that we haven’t yet tried.

    The line is so extensive, we could try something different every night for a month.

    With food as good as your neighborhood Italian restaurant, Michael Angelo’s serves up all the classics from
    Baked Ziti and Chicken Piccata to Manicotti and Shrimp Scampi.

    Keep a few boxes in the freezer, grab a bag of salad and an optional loaf of Italian bread, and you’re good to go.

    Head to the website to see the whole line; there’s also a store locator.

    There are 11-ounce single-serve, 30-ounce family size and 44-ounce large family size; plus gourmet bowls, starters and more.

    The 30-ounce family size serves two hungry adults—although we admit that on a particularly hungry night, we ate the whole thing.

    (Don’t tell Mama.)

    The food comes in microwavable trays, and if you prefer to use a conventional oven, you can remove the food and place it into your own oven-proof dish.

    We tried both techniques, and for a time-saver, the microwave is just fine. The food was ready in little more time than it would have taken to preheat our oven.

    On the other hand, the oven offers the opportunity to bake a loaf of garlic bread.




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