Chef, author, TV host and global culinary ambassador Aliya Leekong is a Food Republic favorite. Leekong sources techniques and ingredients from around the world, and whether you’re making a recipe from her cookbook, Exotic Table, or just one off the top of her head (like this incredibly delicious tangy-spicy pasta), you’re in for an excellent meal.

Maitake mushrooms are such a favorite — they are meaty and nutty (and have actually replaced my weekend bacon, if you can believe it).  I did a pop-up dinner at a little store in my neighborhood in Brooklyn and created this dish for the dinner. Pan-roasting the mushrooms until crisp and finishing them with butter and salt make them irresistible — that’s a key step in the recipe. They need a proper sear to bring out what’s best in the dish. The sauce is super-thin and easy and gets an extra hit from the pickled pepper juice. I top the pasta with some of the pickled peppers, chopped cilantro and Egyptian dukkah, a gorgeous nut and spice blend with coriander that complements the mushrooms beautifully.