3 DIY dishes bringing international flavors + a dessert with an unexpected ingredient


Transport your taste buds right in your own kitchen. Photo via Unsplash

After a year of takeout and curbside pickups, we’ve got a major craving for our next adventure. Luckily, we don’t have to travel beyond our kitchen to get a taste of some of our favorite international flavors. Whether you’re only comfortable with microwave meals or a self-proclaimed chef, save these four recipes for the next time you need some meal inspiration.

No passport necessary

I’m sure you’ve been scrolling through social media recently and came across several photos of people on their dreamy international vacay. For some of us (including myself) that isn’t quite a reality at the moment.

For the time being, let’s transport our taste buds without the pricey plane ticket. Psst, there’s even a dessert to satisfy that sweet tooth after your meal.

1. Korean BBQ Beef

Korean BBQ Beef is easy to make at home and packs a flavorful punch. The mix of herbs and spices satisfies that sweet and savory tooth in one bite.

emerson vieira cpkPJ U9eUM unsplash scaled 3 DIY dishes bringing international flavors + a dessert with an unexpected ingredient

Korean Beef BBQ

Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 10 people


  • 6-1/2 oz Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 oz Granulated Sugar
  • 1-1/4 oz Chopped Garlic Cloves, Fresh
  • 1-1/8 oz Soda, Coca-Cola
  • 1/8 oz White Pepper
  • 1-1/3 oz Sesame Oil
  • 1/4 oz Sesame Seeds, Toasted
  • 1/2 oz Green Onions, Bunch, Minced
  • 8 oz Soy Sauce
  • 3 lb. 2 oz Beef Shortribs


  • Place soy sauce, sugars, garlic, Coca-Cola and pepper into blender. Mix until no large chucks of garlic remain. Slowly add in sesame oil while still blending. Stir in green onion and sesame seeds. Hold cold.
  • Marinate beef in the Korean marinade for a minimum if 12 hours. Remove beef from marinade using tongs and transfer to holding pan. Discard leftover marinade.
  • Grill beef on hot grill cooked to medium temperature, about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Cut into riblets.

Where to grab Korean BBQ in Birmingham:

Ginza Sushi & Korean BBQ

Abhi (Mountain Brook)

2. Pork Tenderloin with Red Mole

Jazz up your typical pork tenderloin with some extra spice. Mole sauce flavored with cinnamon, chiles and a secret ingredient, chocolate, is the perfect addition. It’s a little nod to traditional Mexican cuisines.

pork tenderloin 3 DIY dishes bringing international flavors + a dessert with an unexpected ingredient

Pork Tenderloin with Red Mole

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Servings 8 people


  • 2 Dried ancho chile peppers
  • 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Onion (1 Medium)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup Raw sunflower kernels
  • 1/2 tsp Ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp Ground Allspice
  • 2-1/2 cups Chicken broth, divided
  • 2 slices Firm white bread, torn into pieces
  • 1 Large tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 oz Semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tsp Sugar, plus more to taste
  • Salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 1 to 1/2 lb Pork tenderloins
  • Pepitas (pumpkin seeds), toasted, for garnish


  • In a dry large skillet, toast ancho peppers on both sides for about 2 minutes or until they crackle and just turn color, turning once halfway through cooking. (Be careful not to burn them; it will make the mole bitter.) Place anchos in a small bowl; cover with boiling water and let stand for 30 minutes to rehydrate. Drain, discarding water. Remove seeds; set anchos aside.
  • Heat oil in the same large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté for about 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in sunflower kernels, cinnamon, cumin seeds, and allspice; cook and stir for 3 to 4 minutes more or until mixture is very fragrant. Transfer mixture to a blender or food processor.
  • Add 1 1/2 cups broth, bread, tomato, chipotles and ancho peppers to the blender or food processor. Cover and blend or process until smooth, adding more broth if needed to thin the mixture.
  • Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan. Stir in the remaining broth, chocolate and 2 teaspoons sugar. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes or until desired consistency. Season to taste with salt, black pepper and additional sugar. Cover to keep warm.
  • Meanwhile, season meat with salt and black pepper. Arrange hot coals around a drip pan in a charcoal grill. Test for medium-high heat above pan. Place meat on the grill rack over the pan. Cover and grill for 30 to 35 minutes or until internal temperature registers 155°F on an instant-read thermometer. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium-high. Adjust for indirect cooking. Grill as above.) Remove meat from grill. Cover with foil and let stand for 15 minutes. The temperature of the meat after standing should be 160°F. Slice into 1/2-inch slices.
  • Place meat slices on a serving platter. Top with mole sauce and sprinkle with pepitas

Where to get similar dishes in Birmingham:

El Cazador

Iguana Grill

  • Location: 2085 Colonial Dr #101, Birmingham, AL 35216
  • Website

3. Chicken and Mexican Street Corn Nachos

If you’ve never had Mexican Street Corn, what have you been doing? It’s a summer staple and easy to make at home. It’s great on the cob, but if you really want a flavorful explosion, add it to some nachos with chicken and voilà.


Chicken and Mexican Street Corn Nachos

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course


  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 3 cups Fresh or Frozen Corn
  • 2 tsp Chili Powder
  • 2 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 1 (9 oz.) Blue Corn Tortilla Chips
  • 2 cups Rotisserie Chicken
  • 2 tbsp Sour Cream
  • 1 cut in wedges Lime
  • 1/4 cup Cojita Cheese (or can use Feta)
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Cilantro, chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed or cast -iron skillet over medium high heat. Add the corn and chili powder and allow corn to char slightly before stirring. Remove from heat and stir in mayo.
  • Place tortilla chips on a baking sheet in an even layer and sprinkle with chicken and shredded cheese. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  • While the chips are baking, whisk together sour cream and lime juice from half of the lime wedges.
  • Arrange tortilla, chicken and cheese mixture on a large serving platter. Top tortilla chips with corn mixture, cotija and cilantro. Drizzle with the sour cream mixture. Serve with remaining lime wedges.

Where to find Mexican Street Corn in Birmingham:

La Paz

Moss Rock Tacos & Tequila

4. Frosted Cupcakes with Coca-Cola

Before you start scratching your head about this one, let me assure you that Coca-Cola can actually be the ingredient you’ve been missing for those sweet cupcakes. The soda lends extra flavor and a rich texture to your dessert.

chocolate cupcakes

Frosted Cupcakes with Coca-Cola

Prep Time 10 minutes
Course Dessert


  • 1/2 cup Butter, unsalted, room-temperature
  • 3 tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 5-1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Coca-Cola
  • 12 Cupcakes, prepared, un-frosted


  • Using an electric mixer, on medium speed, cream the butter until smooth. With the mixer in the of position, add the cocoa powder and ½ of the powdered sugar to the bowl. Mix on low speed until combined. Beat in the vanilla, Coca-Cola®, and as much additional powdered sugar as needed to achieve desired consistency. Beat on medium speed for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, or until the frosting is completely smooth.
  • To assemble: Spread or pipe desired amount of frosting on each cupcake. Serve.

Hungry yet? When you get ready to whip up these flavorful international dishes in the kitchen, make sure to tag us in your photos on Instagram @BhamNow.

Sponsored by:

Chaise Sanders
Chaise Sanders
Articles: 287