Not until I moved into my own apartment did I start to love Asian food. It was then that I browsed cookbooks for new recipes. “Borrowed” a couple from the library (don’t ask about my blacklisting). Spent a cool million at the Asian market, loading my pantry with fish sauce, oyster sauce, and toasted sesame oil.
It wasn’t immediate immersion. What is that flavor that I’m missing in my own kitchen attempts? Soy sauce, check. Ginger, check. Sesame oil, check. Sugar, check, check , check (an admitted sweet seeker, here). What I’ve discovered, other than that soy sauce doesn’t rinse out of my favorite white button down, is that these dishes achieve that brilliant balance of sweet and savory with the addition of a few splashes of ingredients like fish sauce, oyster sauce, and chili paste.
This is one of my favorite Asian meals: Korean Beef Bulgogi. It’s outrageously flavorful. I marinated the flank steak in soy, sesame, sugar, and chili, and grilled it until the edges charred. I love pairing it with a zesty ginger slaw, and piling it into soft tortillas to give the meal a fun Asian-Mexican fusion–something I began loving here in Seattle, a city where food trucks reign and plates of hot Korean tacos are gobbled up all the time.