Fusion Foods and Cooking
Fusion food has been the culinary 'flavor of the month' for quite a while now. The trend began in the late 1980s but truly developed in the late 1990s as chefs traveled more widely for their inspirations and brought the foods and cooking techniques of many other cultures and continents back with them. In many ways, fusion cuisine began in the kitchens of Australasia with a blending of European and South-east Asian cooking styles and techniques and this 'Asian Fusion' style simply became 'Fusion'.
However, there is, really nothing new in Fusion cuisine. As long as two human cultures have come into contact they have been experimenting with each others' cookery styles and dishes. For example, the Portuguese brought deep fat frying of foods in batter into Japan and thus Tempura was born. Sushi was brought to the Western USA where it has developed its own style and character.
Curries were brought from India to Britain, where it has now assumed the status of a national dish. Cross-cultural exchanges like this are happening all the time. However, most melding and exchanges of food ideas come with the migration of peoples. Fusion food is different in that a single chef goes out to examine the techniques and ingredients of other cultures before incorporating those techniques and ingredients into their own style of cooking. As a result something truly unique and individual emerges.
Below is a recipe for a classic Fusion dish originating in Australia:
Stir-fried Squid with Herbs and Spinach
450g squid, cleaned and sliced into rings
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
4 spring onions, sliced
1 tsp garlic, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1/2 red bell pepper, finely sliced
8 mange tout, trimmed and halved lengthways
115g baby spinach, washed and drained.
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely shredded
1 tsp fresh basil, finely shredded
2 tsp lemon juice
Combine the olive oil and sesame oils in a wok and when hot add the mustard seeds. As son as the mustard seeds begin to 'pop' add the squid, garlic and ginger and stir-fry briskly for 2 minutes before adding the bell pepper and spring onions. Cook for 1 minute more then add the mange tout and spinach. Cook for 1 minute more then drizzle the lemon juice over everything.
Remove from the heat and stir-in the parsley and basil. Serve immediately.
This is a classic Fusion recipe as it combines both European and Asian flavors and ingredients but is cooked in an Asiatic style by stir-frying.