Borrowing from the immigrant kitchen: seven globally-inspired recipes

by Terry B on March 8, 2017

Seven recipes from the Blue Kitchen archives celebrate the flavors immigrants have brought to our shores and tables.

Patatas Riojas

Need proof that America is a land of immigrants? Take a stroll through any supermarket worth the name. You’ll find pasta and pasta sauce makings. You’ll find cumin in the spice aisle; jalapeño peppers and fresh ginger in the produce department; sauerkraut, kielbasa (or certainly, brats). You’ll find miso paste. You’ll find hummus. These foods—once exotic, but now kitchen go-tos for most of us—didn’t get here on their own.

They came with various waves of immigrants from various lands, because they were familiar and comforting, and, let’s be honest, because that’s what they knew how to cook. They cooked them at home for their families and in the restaurants they started as businesses, serving them first to their fellow immigrants, then to adventurous American-born eaters. And thus, these foods made their way into more and more kitchens and into supermarkets.

America is the country it is because of immigrants, culturally (and culinarily) richer, smarter, stronger and more diverse. Here at Blue Kitchen, we celebrate immigrants almost daily. Here are some recipes we’ve made over the years that owe much to other cuisines, other cultures.

Patatas Riojanas

Spanish chorizo—dense, flavorful pork sausage—paprika, red bell peppers, onion and garlic turn potatoes into the colorful, satisfyingly hearty meal you see above. The technique of “cracking” the potatoes, favored by Spanish cooks, gives them their irregular shape and exposes more surface to let more of the potatoes’ starch thicken the sauce.

“Old Godmother” Spicy Potatoes and Pork

“Old Godmother” Spicy Potatoes and Pork

Marion gives potatoes and pork an entirely different spin with a storied Asian condiment created by a middle-aged Chinese widow struggling to feed her children and ultimately creating a billion-dollar business. You’ll find the recipe and the story here.

Roast Leg of Lamb with Moroccan Spice Rub

Roast Leg of Lamb with Moroccan Spice Rub

A rub of fragrant spices and herbs—including cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon and saffron—creates a crust of exotic Moroccan flavor for this recipe. You can use the versatile  spice rub with other meats and cooking methods too.

Korean Kimchi Pancake with Chicken

Kimchi Pancake

A dinner in Rochester, New York inspired Marion to cook this weeknight-quick savory pancake. It makes delicious use of crunchy, spicy kimchi, the Korean national dish.

Roast Chicken Provençal

Roast Chicken Provençal

I am a huge fan of herbes de Provence. But even for me, this recipe for chicken thighs roasted with shallots, lemons and garlic sounded like it called for way too much of this French herb mix. Actually, it was spot on.

Vietnamese Beef Stew

Vietnamese Beef Stew

On the rare occasions our vegetarian daughter craves meat, she says it is this delicious, aromatic, meaty stew she desires. Eaten with a fork (not chopsticks) and served with a baguette, its inspiration stretches back to when Vietnam was called French Indochina.

Lamb Chops with Potatoes, Peas and Cumin

Lamb CHops with Cumin, Potatoes and Peas

And finally, here’s another example of how American home cooks are consummate borrowers. For Marion and me, anyway, it’s often less about painstakingly recreating a dish from another culture and more about using their ingredients and techniques to inspire something. Here cumin, turmeric and chili powder give this quick, one-pot meal of braised lamb chops, potatoes and peas a delicious Indian twist.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

PinterestFacebookTwitterShare

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John/Kitchen Riffs March 8, 2017 at 8:21 am

If we are what we eat, most of us are the world. Amazing how many different kinds of ingredients we have available, and how many different cuisines we can sample in restaurants. Wonderful collection of recipes — I haven’t made a Moroccan lamb dish like that in years, and it’s so good.

Dani H March 8, 2017 at 9:26 pm

One of the things I have always loved about your blog is that you share dishes with their roots all over the world and the background information you provide along with the recipes. As you say, the diversity brought by immigrants has made this country better in so many ways.

I can personally thank you for broadening my palate by introducing me to herbs and spices I had never tried before, one of my favorites being herbs de Provence.

Great post, Terry!

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: