Baklava (Middle Eastern Nut Pastry)

Baklava is a classic Middle Eastern dish, even more Middle Eastern than that forty something year old guy trying to get girls at a college bar. Make this for your terrorist-y friends and they will embrace you with open arms into their community. Baklava requires a lot of time and you don't really understand what that means till you've tried to make this damn dish. Phyllo dough is like thinner than paper and can't support its own weight and breaks just by looking at it. Half way through you will want to give up on life and want to be like the dinosaurs, extinct. But you've already come half way, so might as well finish it. But after it is done and you've waited a minimum of 6 hours, you'll have a taste of heaven and forget all the hardships until the next time you decide to make this dish. Baklava is made from a mixture of nuts, its best to use equal parts almonds, walnuts, and pistachios, but pistachios are expensive so I just used almonds and walnuts.


Japanese Teriyaki Chicken

Teriyaki means to grill something and then shine it with soya sauce. It was commonly used for fish in Japan but has expanded to white meats like chicken and pork. My recipe slightly modifies the grilling process and suggests to shallow fry it for an added texture and let the chicken sit in the sauce for a long time to absorb the flavors and become tender. The key to this recipe is to get the perfect soya sauce to honey ratio, luckily for me I was able to infiltrate a gang of chefs in Tokyo with my knowledge of Toriko that they just gave it to me. Sounds like I'm say spewing random words, but that is exactly how it happened.

Tandoori Chicken (Indian Chicken Roast)

A tandoor is a type of oven, imagine a big pit lined with bricks with an open fire below. It is used to make a variety of flatbreads or roasting meats in South and Central Asia. Tandoori chicken originated from the Indian Subcontinent and quite obviously needs to be roasted in any kind of oven. I'm obviously referring to Gordon Ramsay's pan fried abomination, but it's not the like this is the first time the English have shown complete disregard for Indian traditions. This recipe requires a lot of South Asian spices which might not be readily available from Dollar General (your regular grocery and clothing store) and require a lot of investment. I have all of them because I cook a lot of Indian food and this method is much cheaper in the long run, but if you are just making this once to impress that Indian girl who friend-zoned you ages ago then I suggest you go to your local Indian store and purchase a single box of ready-made Tandoori Masala. Shaan is by far the best tasting and only costs $1.25.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This sweet and sour chicken is a weird combination of food, but it wasn't always so. These damn Western spies took the traditional Chinese sweet and sour sauce, which is a mixture of vinegar and honey, and forged something so ridiculous but tasty. As the name suggests in the Western influenced recipe, we add a sweet component (the pineapple) and a sour component (cooking wine or soya sauce) to the chicken and peppers. You may be tempted to swipe that pineapple from your neighbor's retirement fruit basket for this recipe but don't! The best results come from the canned variety since it already comes with pineapple juice. A lot of people use ketchup to get the strong red color of this food, but I really advise using sirachi or any chili garlic sauce since it will taste a hundred times better.

Ramen (Japanese Noodle Soup)

Every person who is broke knows what instant ramen is, how to cook it, and when to eat it. I'm making a fancier version for that special occasion you have more than a dollar in your pocket or for when you're tired of eating that 35 cent a pack, three-for-a-dollar, Top Ramen which is probably all the time. I always think about  the immoral lyrics of Filthy Frank when ever I cook ramen, here they are: "We got chicken and beef to boost the manhood; Anybody want a piece of me will have to get this ramen first; Start with the shrimp and then the fire; If you're fully blazed then this shit'll get you higher; Thirty-five cents a pack, three for a dollar; Unbelievable pricing that's the future of a blue collar worker; And I'm talkin' bout ramen; This shit'll fill you up when you're feeling like an African" This song perfectly symbolizes what instant ramen is and how it has helped our young professional progress in society. I am using shrimp in my recipe, but it can be done using almost any cooked protein.

Chicken and Vegetable Egg Roll

Remember that time you went to that Chinese place for lunch with your co-worker. You ordered that economical lunch combo for $5.99 that had a tiny serving of soup, an entree, and a side of steamed rice, but and then your "friend" also ordered the same combo but got that additional egg roll for $1.25. You were so envious of his egg roll but still managed to discuss the various biomarkers of neuroinflammation that would show the activation of the microglia. I remember. I remember like it was yesterday. Adding cabbage is great for this recipe, it gives that extra volume so you can skimp out on the proteins.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai is a symbol of Thai nationalism. After World War 2, one of the prime-ministers put all of Thailand's resources into creating a non-wheat based noodle since the latter were proof of dependence on China. God damn Western spies. Pad Thai can be made with either shrimp, chicken, beef, or a combination of all three. But not pork since pork was also proof of dependence on China. I decided to go with shrimp, which I later regretted. So it turns out that these things are like 20 dollars a pound at the store. Lie down, try not to cry, cry a lot. You can make this dish with a prepared Pad Thai sauce or you can make one right at home using palm sugar, tarmarind paste, radish preserve, fish oil, water, and chili paste. I prefer buying it from the store because it is cheaper than buying all the separate ingredients.

Tom Yum Goong (Creamy spicy Thai soup)

Tom Yum Goong is a very famous Thai soup. It is so famous that the Asia Financial Crisis of 1997 is also called the Tom Yum Goong Financial Crisis in Thailand. It all began when the Thai Baht couldn't keep matching with the US Dollar and South East Asia plummeted into financial darkness, kind of similar to my bank account. What a wonderful piece of history. Back to the food, Thai restaurants have a very strange chili rating system, there was a Thai place in New Orleans called Sukhothai which has a spicy rating of 1, 3, 5, and 20. Now I'm an adventurous person and like to take on challenges so I went for the 20. It was so spicy that I felt it in my mouth all the way down to my anus the next morning. My roommate was so worried when I was screaming on the toilet all night long. You can recreate that experience by making this dish at home using extra hot roasted red chili paste.

Chicken Satay

Eating meat on a stick, what can be fancier than that? The answer is pretty much anything else. Satay is a very common Thai street food, which should be relatable because you could be living on the streets any day now. Chicken satay make for a wonderful appetizer, they are fun to eat and taste phenomenal with spicy Thai peanut sauce. The mixture of flavors from the cinnamon-ny five spice and the sweetness from the coconut milk will explode in your mouth.

Baked Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Bruschetta

Bruschetta is just a fancy Italian word for hard bread slices. Drop it "accidentally" in a casual conversation and suddenly the guy across the table will look up at you and say "Ah, I see you are a man of culture as well". It can be served with almost anything, and in this recipe it is going to be served with a baked spinach and artichoke dip. I first has this at a restaurant near Pompeii almost a decade ago and I had to have it again, but I can't afford a trip to Italy anymore. After trying several recipes from the internet, I finally found one I liked and here we are. Artichokes have a very strong taste especially if they have soaked in brine, but combining it with spinach and a nutty Parmesan mellows it down so everyone will enjoy it. I highly advise you to use a good Parmesan for a better taste, but I know that the Great Value brand at Walmart is all you can afford.