Fusion Cuisine – What is it all about?

In Dining to Tell 
Fusion cuisine

You hear the term “fusion cuisine” all the time in magazines, restaurants and on the television, but what is it actually about?  Well, let me first tell you what it is so that you can have a better understanding of what you may be ordering and eating when you go out for the evening to that new restaurant you’ve been wanting to try.  When individuals talk about fusion cuisine they are referring to two totally different types of ethnic cooking styles that are brought together in one dish, creating something amazing and delicious, and a surprise to your palate.  A popular example of this would be Asian food and Mexican food coming together to create a specific dish, such as Asian tacos.  According to Natasha Geiling at Smithsonian.com, fusion cuisine can be defined as “the blending of culinary worlds to create new, hybrid dishes.”

When Did Fusion Cuisine Begin?

Some will say that it’s still a fairly new concept, but in reality, it’s been around since cultures started coming together and blending their spices, ingredients and food traditions.  Culinary fusion started to become more noticed in the 1970’s when chefs started to pay attention to blending cuisines together and introducing this concept to the rest of the world. In the late 20th century chefs were urged and had that deep desire to think outside of the box and become more creative, and so they did just that by combining cuisines from different cultural backgrounds together to create something new and delicious. There are a few chefs that deserve some recognition for  bringing this term “culinary fusion” to life in the industry.  Chef Richard Wing was known for his upscale five-star restaurant, Imperial Dynasty which was all about French cooking with a Chinese accent. Another chef that you will hear about who has also contributed to giving a better understanding of culinary fusion is Chef Wolfgang Puck.  It’s said that he laid the foundation for this style of cooking.  Since he had a great deal of knowledge of European and Asian cooking, he developed what was referred to as Eurasian cuisine. It’s been said that this style of cooking emerged first in Europe, mostly in areas where you would find a larger group of ethnic diversity.

Why Fusion Cooking?

As a chef, I encourage setting yourself apart and trying something different when it comes to cooking.  Being a chef means being creative, unique and developing who you are and ultimately expanding your repertoire.  When someone asks you what your signature dish is, you can say tacos or you can say spicy Asian tacos. Now honestly, which one would you be more intrigued to try?   For me, it is without a doubt the spicy Asian tacos! Combining different cultures in your cooking is just a great way to explore different flavors, textures, and it has the ability for you to become unique and set yourself apart from other chefs and competitors.  Today people are searching for something different and are willing to explore different things when they are going out for a meal, so why not give them something delicious, unique and memorable.

Show Me A Recipe

Spicy Wonton Asian Taco

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 12 wonton wrappers
  • 2 pounds of ground meat (e.g. beef)
  • 2 tablespoons Thai chili paste
  • 1 fresh Thai chili
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 ½ tablespoons grated ginger
  • 4 cloves fresh minced garlic
  • 1-2 tablespoons vegetable broth
  • 1 chopped shallot

Slaw

  • 1 cup purple cabbage
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • 2 chopped green onions
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1-2 pinches sea salt
  • 1 pinch ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice

Directions

  1. In a pan cook meat over medium heat and make sure not to overcook as it is easy to dry out. Drain and set aside. Combine shallots and ginger to the pan until tender and then add meat, Thai chili paste, Thai chili, sea salt, and vegetable broth.  Set aside on low heat.
  2. Next, combine cabbage, carrots, green onions and cilantro in a medium bowl. Wisk together extra virgin olive oil, rice wine vinegar, low sodium soy sauce, honey and lime juice. Drizzle over slaw and then add salt and pepper and toss together until well combined.
  3. Have a small pan of canola oil on medium-high ready to cook wontons. Cook wontons until light brown and crispy and place on a rack to drain extra oil.
  4. Add meat in each of the wontons and top with Asian slaw.

Bon Appetit


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