"I always say expand your pantry. Buy something you're not familiar with. Try it out," says chef Marcus Samuelsson, author of Marcus Off Duty: The Recipes I Cook at Home. He shares three suggestions for embracing flavors from around the world in your pantry.

1. Sambal Oelek

sambal Photo: neil banas / Flickr

Sambal oelek is wonderful. It's really almost like a chile paste, but it's a little bit rougher than a chile paste. Sambals are used all over Southeast Asia, also a lot in South Africa actually.

It's a great rub. It's a great spice enhancer. It's very similar to the more popularly known Sriracha in taste. It has no sweetener. It's just really delicious. You can thin it out with some olive oil, rub it on a chicken. You can add soy sauce and lime juice and it can be a vinaigrette. I love a pantry that very quickly, with a little bit of acid, a little bit of salt and a little bit of oil, can just go in different places.

This is really what America is today. Look at a city like Washington, D.C. You have every ethnicity in the world here. When I think about L.A., San Francisco and New York, they are just diverse and very American. It's not so much about how authentic it is, it's about how delicious you want to make it.

2. Miso

miso Photo: zkruger / iStock /Thinkstock

We all are familiar with miso soup. But there is blonde miso, there's red miso, there's dark miso. Dark miso I'll rub on a steak, on red meat. Blonde miso I will use for fish and vegetables. Red miso I will use for poultry or roasted vegetables.

These fermented soybeans are something that started as a preserving technique, but they are today flavor enhancers. They're delicious.

3. Harissa

Madrone Tea Bark Eggs Photo: jules:stonesoup / Flickr

Harissa is from Morocco and Tunisia. It is a wonderful spice for them because just like North African cuisine, it's flavorful but not overpowered spicy.

Harissa is wonderful to mix with Dijon mustard -- you can have mustard on a hot dog. It's also super delicious with roasted vegetables, chicken, fish and lamb. I would just steam fish, brush it with some mint and harissa.

Marcus Samuelsson is a chef, restaurateur and author. He received the Rising Star Chef Award from the James Beard Foundation in 1999, won "Top Chef Masters Season 2" and served as the guest chef for the first state dinner of the Obama administration. He is the author of several cookbooks and the memoir Yes, Chef, and co-founder of FoodRepublic.com.