We often hear the buzzwords fusion cooking, but what EXACTLY IS IT AND HOW DOES IT WORK? jESSICA wRIGHT EXPlains…
Fusion style cooking has become so popular that it often seems near impossible to dine out anywhere that still offers ‘authentic’ cuisine. Can we truly find authentic cuisine here in Dongguan or have we gone fusion in an attempt to honor and cater to the myriad palates of local diners?
What is fusion cooking? Essentially, ‘fusion’ describes the act of combining two different substances together, resulting in a new end product. If you apply this to different food cultures, pairing one or more traditions, techniques or disciplines results in an altogether different approach or finished dish, voila! This is fusion cooking.
Fusion sprung in the heights of fashion in 1970’s, being attributed to famous Chef Wolfgang Puck; his first restaurants showcased dishes fused from Asia and Europe. And with the invention of reality TV, and shows like Top Chef, Master Chef and Iron Chef, fusion quickly became all the rage. In reality this technique has been around for hundreds of years, dating back to immigrants landing on foreign soil carrying their countries knowledge and techniques of generations past. Cooking styles have been subjected to countless adaptations to match the availability of produce found in foreign lands.
Today, fusion techniques have been applied to many different cultures and ingredients, globally, and what exists is a very considerable amount of confusion as to which recipes are actually truly authentic and which ones have evolved as the practice spread.This means that almost every dish you can think of, has been a result of fusion.
Why? Fusion can be applied for many reasons from wanting to expand your culinary expertise, which can afford you a dish that is truly unique and distinct from any of those offered by your peers or competitors, or, simply put, the chef or cook may be from one or more cultural backgrounds, looking to inject a personal uniqueness into their repertoire. Also, it can be used as means of subtly introducing new food concepts such as East meets West in Asian Tapas; North meets South in Tex Mex and so on.
Try this Indian-Mexican inspired recipe. Using paneer cheese, which can hold-up to high heat, doesn’t melt and adds a wonderful flavor. You can adjust it to your taste and spice level and substitute kale for spinach and paneer for tofu for a vegan style dish.
Preheat oven 350 degrees
Filling – heat oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add squash, onion, turmeric and curry powder. Sauté 3-4 minutes, until onion has softened. Pour in broth, cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until squash is fork tender. Add chickpeas, coconut milk and paneer,cook for 5-10 minutes, uncovered, over medium-low heat (for a firmer filling, remove from heat. For a mushy filling, cook until squash falls apart).
Tomato Kale Curry Sauce – heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and chili powder, sauté onions until translucent. Add tomatoes, garam masala and paprika. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for five minutes. Add kale, cook until wilted. Season (to taste) with vinegar, salt and pepper.
Assemble enchiladas after warming tortillas so they are easy to handle, add two tablespoons of squash filling. Roll tortillas and place seam side down in a baking dish. Continue, placing each roll side by side, pour curry sauce over the top.
Optional: sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake for 15 minutes, serve with fresh cilantro, sour cream, avocado slices, black beans or rice.
1 medium butternut squash, peeled&diced
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed &drained
100 grams paneer, quarter inch cubes
1 small onion, diced
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup vegetable broth
1 can coconut milk
Tomato-kale curry sauce
1 medium onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon red chili powder
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
2 cups kale, remove ribs & chop
Red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
12-16 corn or flour tortillas
Go have some fun in the kitchen and remember – fusion cooking is a form of expression. Take into account however that not all ingredients can be ‘fused’ together. Be creative, but show some restraint and common sense, then your venture into the world of fusion cooking will be exciting.