One of our secret ingredients to build flavor fast is miso. It goes particularly well in a sweet-savory marinade for grilled skirt steak, amplifying the meat’s beefiness and balancing the sugars in Asian chili-garlic sauce.

The cooks at Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street love shrimp for its plump texture, mildly briny sweetness and weeknight ease. It’s why shrimp is one of our staple go-to dinner solutions. Simply stir-fry a few aromatics and spices until fragrant, toss in the shrimp, and dinner is on the table …

Each November in Sardinia, purple crocus blossoms blanket the rolling fields. It’s a striking sight against a lush green backdrop. Those same flowers also provide what locals call “red gold,” or saffron.

A summery fruit salad and spicy pork tenderloin might not seem the most natural pairing — until you consider the precedents of pork chops with apple sauce and Italian prosciutto with melon.

Western cooks too often go too light on fresh herbs, treating them more as garnish than flavoring. We prefer the Thai approach, which uses ingredients such as basil, mint and cilantro by the fistful.

As summer sets in, warm bowls of chewy, satisfying ramen and soba can become the center of refreshingly chilled salads such as hiyashi chuka. The Japanese dish typically is served as a cone of chilled ramen noodles covered with strips of several ingredients.

Peru's lomo saltado is fusion cooking at its easiest and most approachable. This quick stir-fry includes soy-marinated beef, tomatoes and hot peppers, and reflects Peru's cultural — and culinary — influences.

Tomatoes may get more attention, but throughout Italy, lemon also often finds its way into pasta. The sour and subtly sweet citrus balances the noodle’s starch and the sauce’s heft.