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Every week, Executive Food Editor Keith Dresser pairs each main dish with a side to give you a complete, satisfying dinner without the guesswork. Look for the game plan section to learn tips on how to streamline your kitchen work so dinner comes together quicker.
For flavorful Tacos al Carbón (Grilled Steak Tacos) we start by leaving some of the fat on the steak. On the grill, the fat melts and drips onto the fire, vaporizing and creating smoky, meaty compounds that envelope the steak with grill flavor. To achieve maximum browning on our Mexican-Style Grilled Corn without drying out the kernels, we quickly cook husked corn on a hot grill. A coating of chili powder and oil gives the corn spice and helps prevent sticking. A mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise is a good substitute for crema in the sauce used to coat the grilled corn.
For Thai-Style Chicken with Basil, we start by infusing aromatics and basil into the cooking oil. Grinding the chicken in a food processor along with some fish sauce produces coarse-textured meat that retains moisture when it is stir-fried. A combination of oyster sauce and white vinegar adds a rich but bright flavor to the sauce. Sautéed Baby Bok Choy with Shallot and Fish Sauce calls for lightly steaming the vegetable to soften its stems before it is quickly sautéed. A mix of fish sauce, shallots, and garlic forms the base of a salty, aromatic sauce.
For evenly cooked Skillet-Roasted Fish Fillets, we sear the fish in a hot pan, flip it over, then transfer it to a hot oven to finish cooking. A sprinkle of sugar mixes with moisture on the surface of the fish, accelerating browning and giving the fillets a rich color and deep flavor that’s anything but sweet. Fattoush (Pita Bread Salad with Tomatoes and Cucumber) is at its best when it combines fresh, flavorful produce with crisp pita chips and bright herbs. To make the pita moisture-repellent, we brush its craggy sides with plenty of olive oil before baking. The oil prevents the chips from absorbing too much moisture from the salad and becoming soggy.