Learning to incorporate ingredients and flavors from around the world is like a lightning strike that brings a new jolt of energy into your cooking. And experiencing new sensations on your palate is one of the purest joys for food lovers like all of us in the ZENB community! Plus, exploring global cuisines is like getting a new passport that can magically transport you to every corner of the planet.
With that in mind, we want to share a handful of amazing global flavors with you. They aren’t new and we certainly didn’t “discover” them, but they might be unfamiliar to some home cooks. This is Part 1 of a two-part blog post, so be sure to stay tuned for the second installment!
Gochujang is a Korean red chili paste that’s fermented to create a complex, sweet-spicy-savory flavor. It’s made from ground chili powder called gochugaru, glutinous rice, fermented soybean powder called meju, barley malt powder called yeotgireum, and salt. Other special ingredients may include whole wheat kernels, pumpkin, sweet potato, and honey. In terms of spiciness, gochujang can range from mild to brain-tickling hot.
Traditionally, many Korean families made gochujang at home by fermenting it in earthenware vessels on elevated platforms in their backyards. These days, most people buy commercially made gochujang. It has become relatively mainstream in other parts of the world, and in the US you can usually find bottles of gochujang in Asian markets and specialty grocery stores.
In Korean cuisine, it’s most often utilized to flavor soups and stews and to marinate meats, and it is also used as a condiment. Gochujang can act as a base ingredient for other sauces.
We suggest using gochujang in homemade Kimchi Bibim Guksu and ZENB’s umami-bomb Garlic-Sesame Gochujang Spaghetti. It also makes an incredible glaze for chicken or seitan wings, and it adds a blast of flavor when mixed with mayo or aioli.
Harissa is another red chili paste, but from a different part of the world. It hails from the western region of North Africa and some Arab countries, including Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, and Algeria. Traditionally, harissa is made from a base of roasted red peppers and olive oil, spiced generously with garlic, cumin, coriander, and caraway. Different culinary traditions offer their own harissa variations; for instance, in Tunisia, some families add fermented onion or lemon juice to their homemade harissa. Rose Harissa includes rose water and rose petals for an intriguing floral-spicy combo.
Jarred harissa is widely available, even in supermarket chains. It’s also easy to make at home; there are tons of recipes online that explain how to make the paste in a blender or food processor.
Harissa is used to flavor stews, soups, and marinades, and as a topping for meats, vegetables, and couscous. In Moroccan cooking, it’s served as a condiment with tagines, and in Israel, it’s a topping for pita sandwiches and shawarma. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine a savory dish that wouldn’t benefit from a dollop of this delicious spicy sauce; we especially love it in shakshuka and in hearty plant-fueled dishes, like Honey Roasted Carrots and Grilled Cauliflower Steaks.
This Middle Eastern dish starts with thin shavings of meat sliced off a spinning cone of slowly roasting meat, a bit like a vertical rotisserie. Usually that meat is beef, chicken, turkey, or lamb, and sometimes mutton or veal. Shawarma is iconic street food, served from stalls and carts all over the world. It’s very likely that there’s a shawarma food cart vending somewhere in your city!
There are a number of ways that shawarma is spiced and served. Cardamon, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika and cumin are some of the spices you might find coating the juicy slices of shawarma meat, which is usually piled into a pita or laffa bread and topped with garlic sauce, tzatziki, yogurt sauce, or tahini and pickles. Other toppings might include hummus, a salad of diced tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, or grilled peppers and eggplants. Most shawarma is served with fries.
Hungry for more? Check out the ZENB blog for more kitchen wisdom, ranging from topics like how to achieve pasta mastery to how to take awesome food photos with your smartphone. For tons of creative, globally inspired dishes, take a trip through our recipe collection, and follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!