Use It Up: Sambal Oelek
Banh Mi Bowls
We deconstruct the classic Vietnamese sandwich for a whole-grain bowl that's perfect for make-ahead lunches or dinner. Precooked brown rice takes the place of the traditional baguette. Our quick vegetables are ready in just 20 minutes. If you haven't pickled your own vegetables before, you'll be surprised by how easy it is. Not sure how to use the rest of the chile paste? Try tossing green beans with a couple teaspoons (along with honey, soy sauce, garlic, and canola oil) and roasting, spread a little on grilled cheese, or try it in our Hot and Sour Soup with Tofu.
Sweet Heat Green Beans
We use sambal oelek to add kick to fresh vegetables, tossing it in crispy green beans and mixed with honey for the perfect sweet-meets-spicy, Asian-style veggie dish. Serve this as a side or bring it to a potluck for a flavorful surprise.
Sticky Asian Chicken Wings
Because the wings get a good bit of char, the type of honey you use isn't as important here (it'll lose its subtler nuances). Though we remove the skin from the wings, you'd never know it—they pick up an irresistible crispy crunch as the glaze cooks under the broiler. Give yourself a better grip when skinning each wing by holding it with a paper towel in one hand and pulling the skin with another paper towel in the other hand.
Kicky Grilled Cheeses
Liven up a simple grilled cheese with sambal oelek, a spicy chili paste that delivers Asian-inspired heat. Trade out your heavy cheeses for a reduced fat sharp cheddar and low fat cream cheese. Topped with wilted kale, this is a sandwich that is packed with greens and protein, yet still tastes like an indulgent, grown-up take on a kids' classic.
Coconut-Lemongrass Chicken Bowls
Marinated chicken simmered in an aromatic coconut broth = flavor building at its finest. This Southeast Asian-inspire bowl is all about big flavor with minimal effort. When working with lemongrass, give the stalk a couple of whacks with the back of a knife before chopping to release its flavorful oils.
Smashed Cucumber Salad
Add flavor and punch to a simple cucumber salad with sambal oelek, a fiery chili paste found on the Asian foods aisle. Combine with nutty sesame oil and fresh green onions, this easy veggie salad is light and refreshing, yet packs a spicy, unexpected kick. Let stand to allow the flavors to mesh before consuming.
Chicken Thighs With Ginger-Sesame Glaze
Make-ahead tip: Mix up the glaze first thing in the morning, and allow the chicken thighs to marinate all day long in the refrigerator to soak up even more flavor. After that, getting dinner on the table is as simple as heating up the grill pan.
Chili-Garlic Shrimp with Coconut Rice and Snap Peas
This recipe yields enough shrimp for three globe-trotting meals: a fragrant Thai-inspired sauté, a cool Mexican-style salad, and a quick Chinese stir-fry.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Green Onions and Cilantro
"Brussels sprouts are best when caramelized," says Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable. "Tossing the roasted vegetables with rich, salty fish sauce enhances the sweet notes created by the cooking process.
Vietnamese Barbecue Pork and Noodle Salad
Sambal oelek is a condiment you'll be happy to have on hand. Made by grinding together chiles, vinegar or lime, a touch of sugar, and salt, it's great in marinades and salad dressings, or it can add heat and complexity to a fruity mango salsa.
Kung Pao Chicken Tacos
Rev up dinner with tangy, smoky, or fiery flavors. Taking inspiration from those hip Korean taco trucks, we took a mixture usually served over rice and stuffed it into blistered tortillas.
Soba Noodle Salad with Pork, Snap Peas, and Radishes
Lemon juice, sugar snap peas, and fresh mint bring bright flavor to this main-dish salad.
Chicken and Rice Noodle Stir-Fry with Ginger and Basil
This superfast stir-fry is overflowing with traditional Asian spices and comes together in under 20 minutes.
Substitute Sriracha sauce or another chili paste if you can't find sambal oelek.
Curried Coconut Soup with Chicken
For a lighter meal, you can omit the rice noodles; the calories will decrease to about 230.
Quick Fried Brown Rice with Shrimp and Snap Peas
Stir up your weeknight meal routine by serving up this 20-minute dish starring succulent shrimp.
Basil Summer Rolls with Peanut Dipping Sauce
Made from a simple combination of rice flour, water, and salt, rice paper has about 30 calories per 8-inch round—that's 80% less than the same size flour tortilla. While filling one summer roll, let another rice paper soak.
Hoisin-Grilled Chicken with Soba Noodles
This dinner is table-ready in just under 30 minutes. Use time-savers like bagged, pretrimmed sugar snap peas for this quick one-dish meal.
Soy-Braised Pork and Rice
Braising the pork in soy sauce and chile paste infuses it with flavor and keeps it tender. Serve with sesame-soy cucumbers: Combine 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil, and 2 sliced English cucumbers.
Ramen Noodle Bowl
Slow simmered broths are the rich bases of these ramen recipes. Combine that with other flavorful components, like kimchi or fresh ginger, and savor a steaming bowl of deliciousness.
Move over chicken noodle soup—ramen is the new bowl of comfort. Here, we offer a Japanese-style chicken soup twist, flavored with miso, soy sauce, chile paste, and porcini mushrooms.
Sweet-Spicy Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry
This colorful chicken and veggie stir-fry features a sweet-spicy sauce and a topping of dry-roasted peanuts, which adds delicious crunch.
Pan-Grilled Thai Tuna Salad
Pair with a side of crunchy rice crackers and prepare a refreshing dessert to follow the spicy salad.
Szechuan Chicken Stir-Fry
All the tasty take-out flavors you crave come together with fresh ingredients for a quick 25-minute meal. Chop or slice chicken for fastest possible cooking. Bonus: More exposed surface area allows the chicken to absorb flavor from sauces or other high-flavor ingredients.
Serve these garlicky, spicy meatballs with steamed sugar snap peas and 2 cups of cooked rice tossed with 1 tablespoon chile paste—you'll find it on the ethnic aisle of most supermarkets or at Asian grocers.
Roasted Chile-Garlic Broccoli
The bold flavors of chile paste and dark sesame oil call for pairing with a robust entrée like grilled salmon, tuna, or beef.
Carrot Salad with a Hit of Heat
Some like cooked carrots, while others prefer them grated to make a crunchy salad. You can do either with this recipe—just toss steamed carrot coins with the dressing. The sweetness of the carrots is balanced by the fresh bite of the sambal oelek and chopped herbs.
Korean-Style Beef Skewers with Rice Noodles
Find the noodles and sambal on the ethnic aisle at the supermarket or in an Asian market.
Pork and Shiitake Pot Stickers
It's never a bad idea to have a good supply of dumplings on hand. Ours taste better and are much lower in sodium than what you'll find at the store.
Quick Black Bean and Corn Soup
Using six of our top quick ingredients, Quick Black Bean and Corn Soup is ready in less than 30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of Greek-style plain yogurt to counteract the spicy chile paste.
Dan Dan Noodles
Frozen egg noodles are worth seeking as a budget-friendly yet tastier version of dried.