Spice Up Your Grill With Global Flavors

A healthy take on tastes from around the world.

From the WebMD Archives

Viva Mexico

Whether you're grilling meat, fish, or chicken to fill tacos, or you're infusing cobs of corn with smokiness, spice up your cookout with the flavors of Mexico.

Ingredients to get started: Start off with the right seasonings -- cumin, oregano, chili powder, and cayenne pepper are must-haves to rub onto grillables.

Grilled Fish Tacos With Avocado Crema

This recipe calls for soft whole-wheat corn tortillas (90–100 calories per serving; 3 grams fiber). If you can't find them, feel free to substitute eight 6-inch corn tortillas for a similar amount of calories, carbs, and fiber.

Makes 4 servings


1 lb firm white fish, such as cod

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

½ tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp oregano

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp lime juice

Avocado Crema

1 avocado

½ cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt

2 tbsp lime juice

½ cup cilantro

4 whole wheat corn tortillas


½ head of cabbage, shredded

cucumber slices

radish slices


hot sauce



1. Marinate fish in olive oil, spices, salt, and lime juice at least 1 hour and up to overnight.

2. Prepare avocado crema: Blend avocado, yogurt, lime juice, and cilantro in a mini food processor or blender.

3. Brush grill with oil and light grill to a medium-high flame.

4. Remove fish from marinade, shaking off and discarding excess. Grill fish about 3 minutes on each side. You should be able to flake it with a fork when they're done.

5. Warm tortillas on the grill.

6. Assemble tacos: Divide fish among tortillas and serve with crema and toppings.

Per serving

398 calories, 35 g protein, 31 g carbohydrate, 17 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 64 mg cholesterol, 672 mg sodium, 9 g fiber, 6 g sugar. Calories from fat: 39%

Good Evening, Vietnam

One of the best takeaways from Vietnamese grilling is to make meat part of the dish, not the main event. Serve grilled, marinated meat over a bed of noodles and vegetables.

Ingredients to get started: Rice noodles are an instant side dish. Layer marinades with sweet, sour, and salty flavors of Southeast Asia: Fish sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice are a good base. Fresh herbs -- cilantro, mint, and basil -- brighten Vietnamese-flavored grilled dishes.


Vietnamese Grilled Pork With Rice Noodles

In this Vietnamese-inspired dish, flavorful grilled pork is complemented by delicate rice noodles, fresh vegetables and herbs, and a tangy dressing.

Makes 4 servings


12 oz pork loin, sliced into ½-inch strips

8 oz thin rice noodles


2 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp fish sauce

1½ tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced chili pepper (optional)


1 large carrot, shredded

½ English cucumber, sliced into half coins

½ cup basil

1/3 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

4 cups shredded lettuce


1½ tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp fish sauce

½ tbsp brown sugar

1/3 cup water

1 tsp minced chili pepper (optional)

1 tsp minced garlic


1. Combine marinade ingredients in gallon-sized zip-close bag. Add pork, seal bag, and massage to coat. Refrigerate meat at least one hour and up to overnight.

2. Cook rice noodles according to instructions on package. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

3. Combine dressing ingredients and set aside.

4. When ready to grill: Light the grill and brush grate with vegetable oil. Remove pork from marinade and shake off excess. Grill marinated pork over a medium-hot fire until golden brown and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Take pork off the grill and set aside.

5. Divide rice noodles into serving bowls. Distribute pork slices and toppings among bowls. Serve with dressing.

Per serving

483 calories, 30 g protein, 54 g carbohydrate, 17 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 62 mg cholesterol, 770 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 8 g sugar. Calories from fat: 31%

Caribbean Spice

The sultry, sunny Caribbean lends sweet heat to its cuisine. Whether you're grilling fish or chicken, try a jerk marinade.

Ingredients to get started: Jerk seasoning is a key flavoring of Jamaica. It's layered with flavors of allspice, thyme, cinnamon, garlic, and ginger. That sweetness is a natural pairing for grilled fruit. Avocados, tropical fruit, and watercress are also refreshing additions to Caribbean-themed grilling.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Kebabs With Corn and Mango


Jerk seasoning is incredibly flavorful: sweet, tangy, and savory all at once. You can find prepared jerk seasoning, or blend your own -- this recipe shows you how.

Makes 4 servings


1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks

1 tbsp canola oil

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tbsp. peeled fresh ginger, minced

2 tbsp orange juice

2 tsp cider vinegar

Jerk seasoning

1 tsp allspice

1 tsp thyme

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

¼tsp cayenne (or to taste)

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp canola oil for brushing corn and mango

2 cobs of corn, shucked and sliced into 2-inch-thick rounds

2 cups diced mango (fresh or frozen, thawed)

12 bamboo skewers, soaked in water


1. Combine all ingredients other than 1 tbsp canola oil, corn, and mango in a large zip-close bag. Seal and massage to blend. Set aside in fridge for 1 hour or overnight.

2. Thread soaked bamboo skewers with chicken, corn, and mango.

3. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Grill skewers until chicken is cooked through, 12–15 minutes.

Per serving

328 calories, 28 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 12 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 66 mg cholesterol, 355 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 13 g sugar. Calories from fat: 33%

Other Global Taste Sensations


The grill of choice is a very hot oven, or tandoor. You can take this as inspiration to grill naan (or pizza dough), while giving meat or poultry a rubdown with Indian seasonings.

Ingredients to get started: Curry powder -- or make your own blend using the key ingredients: turmeric, cumin, coriander, dry mustard, fenugreek, cardamom, and cloves -- garlic, fresh ginger, and onions

Try: Serving with yogurt sauce and other traditional Indian condiments.


The ultimate healthy cuisine provides a good model for grilling: lots of vegetables, bright flavorings, an abundance of seafood, and smaller amounts of meat and cheese.

Ingredients to get started: Oregano, mint, sumac, garlic, lemons, and red wine vinegar

Try: Using a small amount of feta to sprinkle on a dish before you serve it -- you'll get maximum flavor by adding it at the end. As with Indian food, a cooling yogurt sauce can complement your dish. Make a quick tzatziki by grating cucumber and a bit of garlic into nonfat plain Greek yogurt.

WebMD Magazine - Feature Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on March 24, 2016



Kerri-Ann Jennings, writer.

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