Blending The Tastes of a Thousand Regions
Fusion cuisine, although a relatively new term, is more than likely an ancient tradition. However, it was only wildly popularized in the 1970s when several French chefs decided to offer dishes that combined different traditional sub-culture cuisine. For instance, dishes from French food and Asian cuisine were often served together to create new and varied combinations.
Essentially, fusion food is the blending of different culinary dishes, cooking styles and methods to create hybrid cuisine. It requires both creativity and innovation as well as a diverse mindset on what can be combined.
When Did It Become a Movement? History and Facts:
The fusion food movement is often accredited to Wolfgang Puck and Roy Yamaguchi who intentionally combined the flavours of different cultures during the 1970s and 80s. Puck looked at combining Asian foods with European dishes which ended up gaining popularity across the United States. This is where phrases that described dishes, like Pan-Asian and Pan-Pacific came from.
What makes this type of cooking so interesting is that it can make successful and delicious combinations or the chef can simply get it wrong. Undesirable dishes would come from chefs who would haphazardly combine ingredients from different sub-cultures in an attempt to find a taste that was truly unique. Unfortunately, with the boom of the fusion movement, it created a lot of hostility because there were many, many undesirable dishes created. So much so, that many chefs don’t want to be associated with the fusion movement. Now-a-days this movement can be seen under “mash-up” dishes which take distinct food concepts and combine them to make one dish. An example of this would be the “Cronut” which is a donut and a croissant combined.
In most cases, you will see a lot of sub-cultural combination of different Asian dishes mixed with other Asian dishes, or Asian dishes mixed with European dishes. Think the Korean Taco, or Tex-Mex, or Thai-Vietnamese Pacific Rim cuisine. Through cross-cultural pairing, many new meals and delicious foods have been created, allowing us to create a diverse cultural of food preparation and consumption.
Popular and Well Noted Fusion Cuisine Recipes and Dishes:
Since fusion cuisine is incredibly diverse, not every sub-cultural will be represented here but here are some easy to make and popular recipe ideas.
• Vietnamese Sausage Sandwich: this uses the influence of sandwiches from the French and makes a very easy, low key Asian snack. What makes it great is that it is super diverse in that you can swap out ingredients if you have to. For the real thing though, you will need Vietnamese sausage! Check out the recipe here.
• Nutella Ice Cream Sandwich: this is considered a dessert and basically takes Asian white bread, Italy’s nutella hazelnut spread and vanilla bean ice cream. The ingredients list for this is extremely simple, you take vanilla ice cream, a piece of Asian bread with nutella spread and plop the ice cream on top and enjoy. Check out the recipe here.
• Roasted Squash and Tocino Pizza: this mixes Filipino Tocino which is a sweet flavoured boneless meat with pizza and squash. Pizza originates from Italy and Greece, so the mash-up is between the flatbread of Greece and the pizza dough of Italy and the sweet meat of Filipinos. Check out the recipe here.
• Avocado Ice Cream Sandwich: this is a dessert that uses Asian white bread and avocado ice cream. Now this won’t be found in Western markets because avocado ice cream is not readily available, however it can be made at home. The ingredients list is super simple and it can be paired with a milkshake or some other dessert. Check out the recipe here.
• Japanese Fish Tacos: this is as exactly as it sounds. It takes ponzu-wasabi mayo and Pacific albacore (tuna) and mixes it with tacos. It is rather easy to make and the ponzu can be found in any grocery store that sells Asian food. Check out the recipe here.
If you plan on looking for delicious fusion dishes, definitely check out the following sub-cultures: Pan-Asian, Indo-European, Tex-Mex, and Anglo-Indian cuisine.