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Your Favorite Fusion Cuisines

c
cimui Jun 30, 2009 05:11 PM

I'm idly dreaming about what I want for dinner and it occurred to me that lots of the foods I most love are actually products of fusion. Fusion gets a bad rap, but it can be so amazing when it's done well! Think: Korean Chinese (jiajiang mian), Chinese Peruvian (lomo saltado, arroz chaufa), Indian Carribean (curry chicken), Indian American (dosa filled with arugula, sundried tomatoes and chevre), Japanese French (green tea creme brulee), etc...

What are your favorites cuisines and/or dishes? Do you love maki with jerk chicken and mango? Indian Chinese?

  1. K K Jul 2, 2009 11:52 AM

    Korean Chinese, Chinese or Japanese Peruvian, aren't really fusion, but brought about as a result of immigrants. In that same vein you can say Tex Mex or Cali Mex is "fusion".

    And with that said, Hawaii and Singapore, two excellent examples of melting pots, you can find unique combinations street food to upscale as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: K K
      c
      cimui Jul 2, 2009 02:16 PM

      Yeah, "fusion" is definitely a problematic term. I don't have a clear idea of what it means, either. I kind of like Hazelhurst's approach of calling all food fusion... but then we wouldn't have anything to talk about, here. So for the sake of argument, I'm just going to pretend like I don't agree with her/him. :)

      Is your approach to say that fusion is only fusion when there's a conglomeration of many different cuisines, not just two? I agree that Hawaii and Singapore both have very distinctive cuisines born of a long history of cultural intermixing. But weren't the various cuisines also just "brought about as the result of immigrants"? (Immigrants in both places just happened to come from many, many different parts of the world.)

    2. h
      HDinCentralME Jul 2, 2009 11:44 AM

      There is a restaurant, Avatar's, in Marin County California, which offers what they call "Marindian" cuisine, which actually is an Indian/Mex/Carribean fusion (e.g. Pumpkin Enchiladas) which I just love.

      1 Reply
      1. re: HDinCentralME
        c
        cimui Jul 2, 2009 02:06 PM

        I love this combination, too, and it's surprisingly not too uncommon. What a catchy name for the cuisine: Marindian! :)

      2. linguafood Jul 2, 2009 06:28 AM

        Vietnamese-Italian.

        There's a couple here in Berlin that owns two restaurants ("Grünfisch" = green fish); one of the owners is Vietnamese, the other one Sicilian. They serve some truly interesting and tasty combinations, and the Vietnamese guy is also a big wine connaisseur --

        4 Replies
        1. re: linguafood
          c
          cimui Jul 2, 2009 02:02 PM

          Really interesting combo. It sounds like they more focus on the Sicilian side of things, though. Does the Vietnamese influence come into play more in the techniques?

          1. re: cimui
            linguafood Jul 2, 2009 03:48 PM

            You're right, there's definitely more emphasis on Sicilian food -- but some of the pasta is prepared in a wok, and Vietnamese herbs & mushrooms are added to the food that you wouldn't expect.

            1. re: linguafood
              c
              cimui Jul 2, 2009 06:45 PM

              Darn it. Now I really want to try it and as far as I know, I won't be going to Berlin again for a very long time. Too bad! If you happen to eat there again, would you post a review? The next best thing is to live vicariously.

              1. re: cimui
                linguafood Jul 3, 2009 02:46 AM

                Ha. I'll try. With 'only' 5 weeks left in Berlin, a lot of restos beckon our name '-D

                But if I go, I'll write about it. Most likely here, tho http://bitchinberlin.wordpress.com/

        2. crabby_cakes Jul 1, 2009 07:41 PM

          I like a lot of the ones already mentioned. Vietnamese French is good. Japanese Italian. Chinese food is Jewish food at Christmas time.

          1 Reply
          1. re: crabby_cakes
            c
            cimui Jul 2, 2009 02:20 PM

            >>Chinese food is Jewish food at Christmas time.

            And all year round for the thousands of Jewish Americans and Israelis who now live in Shanghai. I didn't see much evidence of it, but I do wonder when/if a fusion cuisine is going to develop, there. Most of my Jewish friends just seem to eat at halal Muslim Chinese restaurants/stands since it's easier to avoid pork, there.

          2. Miss Needle Jul 1, 2009 03:47 PM

            I do know that some people have a tendency to dismiss fusion cuisine. But everything is evolving and is a fusion of some sort. I remember many years ago posting something about bulgogi tacos (I don't think it was on this board). People scoffed at me saying that these two things shouldn't be put together and how I'm disrespecting foods of both cuisines by my fusion, blah, blah, blah. Well, it seems that the Kogi bulgogi taco truck in LA is pretty popular now.

            I do love my Indian-Chinese, especially Manchurian goat. I think most of my fusion dishes at home come from cleaning out my fridge. I'm planning on making an Italian version of a Korean dish tomorrow night -- hwe dup bap. Raw salmon, black rice (because that's what I have at home), baby arugula, lemon, olive oil, sesame seeds, salt, avocado, basil. And while I've not put jerk chicken and mango inside my maki rolls, I have put jerk chicken on top of kim-bap (Korean version of maki roll). Delicious!

            2 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle
              c
              cimui Jul 1, 2009 07:25 PM

              With the benefit of hindsight, bulgogi tacos seems so obvious and perfect, as do kimchee hotdogs. (But hotdog tacos... that would take me a few years to wrap my mind around. :)

              Your hwe dup bap sounds delicious! I could see that appearing on the menu at one of the Momofukus.

              1. re: Miss Needle
                h
                hazelhurst Jul 1, 2009 08:41 PM

                It strikes me that you have stated the perfect case...I have always believe that ALL cooking is "fusion" and that there are Landmarks of a "cuisine" that should be maintained but that there is evolution. Some "fusion" that we have now is, to my way of thinking, ridiculous...being able to prepare "fresh" (flown in hours ago) ingredients from India to a Paris restaurant and pretend that a new item has been created. Perhaps...but it is ridiculous. Food travels with travellers...airplanes take the place of ships hauling spices. But is it, somehow, forced. I can eat spring vegetables in North America when it is spring in S. America...I appreciate the opportunity, but it does not warm me. "Fusion" has become forced and that is not, to me , natural. In years to come, when spaceships run mail from here to Saturn, my view will be seen to be provincial.

              2. ipsedixit Jul 1, 2009 02:25 PM

                Spam Musubi

                1 Reply
                1. re: ipsedixit
                  c
                  cimui Jul 1, 2009 07:26 PM

                  Shockingly delicious. I never thought I'd enjoy Spam, but having it in Spam musubi won me over. I'm on the dark side, now and there's no turning back.

                2. c
                  cimui Jul 1, 2009 02:13 PM

                  Jungmann's post has me wondering whether I should've asked: What is the most interesting, yet delicious, fusion dish you've come across?

                  There's a pretty good track record of Jewish / Chinese intermarriage in NYC (and all over the U.S., really). One mixed-heritage family I know serves latkes topped with Peking duck and chopped liver schmeared onto sliced mantou. Both delicious!

                  My SO and I have sliced leftover iddlis in half and filled them with red roasted pork and Chinese cucumber pickles, used snow peas and daikon radish in avial. Also pretty good. One year, we made Thanksgiving turkey stuffing out of leftover vada.

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: cimui
                    waytob Jul 2, 2009 02:45 AM

                    Wow...never thought of using vada for stuffing...having said that I like my turkey a particular way.

                    Mentioned this in another thread too...but one of the best dishes I've had has been in a small hidden place in brick lane that had taken the plain dhosa to new levels. Cooking it in a square pan and filling it with all manner of items and accompanying saces.....spicy thai chicken served up with a peanut sauce....yum. My brother recenlt had a mediterranean medley...grilled vegetables served up with a side of olive tapenade. All parceled up in a crispy paper thin dhosa

                    1. re: waytob
                      c
                      cimui Jul 2, 2009 10:52 AM

                      Dosas are incredibly versatile, no? And the grilled veggies, in particular, are such a great combination. I've been using dosas as a sandwich wrap of sorts in place of bread, since developing my wheat intolerance, and actually think I like it a lot better than other flatbreads / crepes / pancakes. They're a great combination of soft and crispy, they're high protein, they're really easy to make, esp. if you leave a batch of batter in the fridge to use from day to day. (The big downside is that in cooked form, they don't travel / hold well and really have to be eaten immediately.)

                      I have a batch of urad dal soaking in water, now, and lots of summer squash on the counter. I think tonight's going to be a vada with grilled veggies night!

                      1. re: cimui
                        c
                        cimui Jul 2, 2009 02:31 PM

                        (i mean dosa with grilled veggies night... sorry for the post lunch food coma. :)

                        1. re: cimui
                          waytob Jul 2, 2009 11:03 PM

                          I think thats one of the best things about things like dhosa and idli...they are perfect for the wheat intolerant.....I wonder if it would be possible to try and make a char siu equivalent using idli....next experiment when I get some good pork.

                          Another thing I love playing around with is kachori fillings....we don't make round kachori, instead ours are wrapped in an almost puff pastry type cover and then ridged to form mini-empanada's (sort of)....fillings we have used include everything from matar paneer to chicken and sweetcorn, and they make the perfect hors d'oerves or drinking snack

                    2. re: cimui
                      JungMann Jul 2, 2009 06:17 AM

                      Wow, vada for stuffing! I think my dad would really go for that in some game hens next time I'm home! How did you season it?

                      South American hot dogs and those fusion Korean wraps at New York Hot Dog Company had me thinking last night, so I made a morcilla and kimchi lettuce wrap with Sriracha mayo: Tears. Of. Joy. I might go in an even more Colombian direction and top with some crushed potato chips next time. If only they made kimchi-flavored Pringles.

                      1. re: JungMann
                        h
                        hazelhurst Jul 2, 2009 06:48 AM

                        "kinchi-flavored Pringles" I like it! Makes me wonder what the High Court in Britain would say about that inasmuch as it has ruled that Pringles are in fact potato chips. (The reasoning behind this is not hard to fathom--it meant that Procter & Gamble owes the British Government several scores of millions of pounds. Finance = logic)

                        1. re: JungMann
                          c
                          cimui Jul 2, 2009 11:10 AM

                          Nice! Morcilla seems oddly appropriate for a lettuce wrap because a lot of varieties include some rice in the sausage, too. Last summer, rice/kimchi lettuce wraps were one of my go-to lazy summer meals (until I started worrying that I'd drop dead from all the salt).

                          Vada stuffing / dressing tastes great, but the texture won't be as fluffy and light as some bread-based dressings. It comes out a bit dense, like a rice stuffing. I really just winged this prep for another family member who developed a wheat allergy years before I did, and replaced bread croutons with chopped up bits of vada. I kept all the seasonings old school (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, celery, onion) to avoid freaking out the traditionalists any more than I had to.

                          However... if I were to make this for myself, alone, I'd want to experiment with adding toasted black mustard seeds and toasted cumin seeds, roughly ground, cashews, green chilis, maybe a dash of ginger powder and cilantro leaves just prior to serving. I'll have to play around with this again this year -- for me this time.

                          1. re: cimui
                            JungMann Jul 2, 2009 11:44 AM

                            Texture? I think you're forgetting how fobby my father is. When we were kids he would make chickens stuffed with plain basmati. Sometimes uncooked. Vada would probably be a huge upgrade, though he is largely unfamiliar with South Indian.

                            1. re: JungMann
                              c
                              cimui Jul 2, 2009 01:57 PM

                              =D Your dad is *hilarious*. You've really gotta give him points for trying, though. That's far more adventurous than my dad ever got in the kitchen.

                              Isn't bhalle the north Indian and Pakistani version of vada? Just call it bhalle. :)

                      2. K K Jul 1, 2009 11:07 AM

                        Not really fusion, but I would say former British/French colonies that left behind cultural and food influences have some very interesting food.

                        The Hong Kong style cafe (cha chaan teng) is while not necessarily "fusion" but western food downscaled for everyone in very unique settings (in Hong Kong) offering a broad spectrum of Cantonese, HK style western, and all sorts of various and eclectic dishes, bowls and the ilk. e.g. and representative item, Hong Kong milk tea - 5 to 7 leaf blend combining flavors to achieve color, texture, consistency, taste + evaporated milk (and/or condensed milk for sweetening). A true HK re-invention of the British style afternoon tea drink that can be enjoyed anytime of day or night. Or the classic yin-yang which combines both HK milk tea and coffee together as a drink.

                        Viet/French fusion upscale (or downscale): this is a whole topic in itself. From banh mi to butter garlic basil crab etc etc.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: K K
                          c
                          cimui Jul 1, 2009 02:06 PM

                          Viet French has to be one of the most amazing mixtures of styles, ever. If ever there was a child of two great cuisines that outshined both parents, this would certainly be it. Keep naming dishes, please, so I can fantasize about them!

                          1. re: cimui
                            c
                            Cinnamon Jul 1, 2009 10:23 PM

                            What are some of your favorite Viet French dishes? I"ve been meaning to explore that cuisine here in L.A., am sure it's gorgeous.

                            So far, Lao-Thai is working well. :)

                            1. re: Cinnamon
                              c
                              cimui Jul 1, 2009 11:24 PM

                              Vietnamese baguettes are wonderful... lighter and more crispy than ordinary French baguettes, I think because of the addition of some rice flour. I also love Vietnamese liver pate, on or off bahn mi, bahn mi in all its forms of course, banh xeo (filled rice crepes), pho (subject to debate whether there are roots in French cuisine), pate chaud, asparagus and crab meat salad lightly dressed with nuoc cham, Vietnamese coffee made with condensed milk.

                              I wasn't familiar with the butter / garlic / basil crab KK mentioned, so I was hoping to hear more about it! it sounds good... really good. I suspect that most dishes prepared with butter in Vietnam would be considered Vietnamese French fusion.

                              1. re: cimui
                                K K Jul 2, 2009 11:56 AM

                                Thanh Long/Crustacean, originated in San Francisco that expanded down to Beverly Hills, is an example. I guess you can say upscale fusion. Their signature dish is really the garlic butter baked Dungeoness crab. I haven't quite seen much of the French side of things yet, but I suppose the upscale fancy dining, saucing/plating, perhaps use of cream/creme fraiche and a lot of butter, paired with fine wines perhaps :-).

                                banh mi and cafe sua da, definitely strong French influences there with the baguettes, the French press drip coffee, the use of pork liver pate to spread on the sandwich etc.

                        2. JungMann Jul 1, 2009 08:41 AM

                          The Mozarab-Pakipino griffin that defines my personal cooking style is probably my favorite. Of course, that's probably because it's tailored to me. If we are talking purely fusion, I do have to confess to liking Filipino with its blend of Spanish, Malay, Indian and Chinese, but also Hawaiian with its blend of Polynesian, Japanese, Portuguese, American and more. Like the lowbrow cretan I am, I do also enjoy the occasional reminiscence of growing up in a less diverse time by diving into gnarly, deep-fried American-Chinese or Tex-Mex, but I also love the real thing.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: JungMann
                            c
                            cimui Jul 1, 2009 02:01 PM

                            Mozarab-Pakipino! That makes my head spin. :) What dish / preparation would you consider Mozarab Pakipino?

                            I have to confess to being a complete lowbrow cretin when it comes to American Chinese and Tex Mex, too. I actually ordered egg foo young at a (fairly horrendous) takeout place in the Catskills last weekend and sort of enjoyed it. I'm kind of worried that someone's going to take away my ethnic credentials or something. ;)

                            1. re: cimui
                              JungMann Jul 2, 2009 06:06 AM

                              Mozarab-Pakipino is more a sensibility than a specific dish or technique. I like all my food Filipino sour, Pakistani meaty and spicy, Spanish porky and fresh or in an Arab mood, lamb-filled and warm-tasting...an amalgamation of all my dinners growing up. My food is a little more flavorful, a little more international and a lot spicier than its contributor cuisines alone. Today's breakfast was morcillas with a red pepper omelette which I duly slathered in ketchup and Sriracha. Dinner will likely be chicharrones ki chaat and leftover saag ghosht and bhindi masala with avocado-coconut ice cream and some cheese from Zabar's mixed bin for dessert. Tomorrow I may make some kachumbar with salted duck eggs to eat with my tuyo.

                              The inspiration is more plainly noticeable when I invent dinner with whatever is in the fridge such as last month's chicken and chorizo braised in a tomato-saffron broth with patis, pimenton and roasted summer squash and red bells with garlic raita. Or a plain old roast chicken seasoned with lemon and soy sauce (Filipino) with sweet and smoked paprika, garlic, parsley (Spanish) and cumin, coriander and nutmeg (Pakistani, Indian, Arab...take your pick).

                          2. scoopG Jul 1, 2009 04:56 AM

                            Chinese-Portuguese - as found in Macao.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: scoopG
                              c
                              cimui Jul 1, 2009 02:03 PM

                              I dearly love the dan tat / egg custard tarts. What other dishes are there that define the cuisine?

                              1. re: cimui
                                scoopG Jul 2, 2009 04:24 AM

                                It's really Chinese style food with Portuguese additions. Use of olives, even capers in some dishes for example. More baked items like seasoned baked Chicken or crabs over rice.

                                1. re: scoopG
                                  c
                                  cimui Jul 2, 2009 01:45 PM

                                  Very interesting: http://recipes.wikia.com/wiki/Macanes...

                                  If I'd known that Macau had such interesting food, in addition to just gaming (meh, in my book), I'd've made much more of an attempt to go!

                            2. limster Jun 30, 2009 06:27 PM

                              Peranakan/Nyona.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: limster
                                c
                                cimui Jun 30, 2009 09:12 PM

                                Oh yes, that's a good one. Is there anywhere in the world where you can find this stuff other than Singapore and surrounds?

                                1. re: cimui
                                  limster Jun 30, 2009 11:51 PM

                                  I lucked out and found a place in London that makes Penang-style Nyona. It's on Old Street - called Sedap.

                                  1. re: limster
                                    c
                                    cimui Jul 1, 2009 07:27 PM

                                    Now on my Google map of London -- thanks!

                                2. re: limster
                                  luckyfatima Jul 1, 2009 04:15 AM

                                  Same thought, nonya baba cuisine. something so perfect about the mix.

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