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Jun 30, 2009 05:11 PM

Your Favorite Fusion Cuisines

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?

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    1. re: limster

      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

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

        1. re: limster

          Now on my Google map of London -- thanks!

      2. re: limster

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

      3. Chinese-Portuguese - as found in Macao.

        3 Replies
        1. re: scoopG

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

          1. re: cimui

            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

              Very interesting:

              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. 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

            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

              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 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. 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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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'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

                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

                  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

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

                    1. re: cimui

                      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 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

                  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

                    "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

                      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

                        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

                          =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. :)