New fusion cuisine does not have to mean modern. Considering the name, it can be a hard concept to wrap your head around, but the idea of fusion food dates back many years. And you don’t have to visit a restaurant to experience it.
Where traditions are made
Fusion is a joining together of two or more things to create one body. So fusion cuisine is the joining together of two or more culinary styles or methods. Fusion cuisine does not mean non-traditional, though. In fact, far from it.
We may see spaghetti bolognese as a traditional Italian food, but it has its origins in the durum wheat of Arabic cuisine.
New fusion cuisine embodies two elements: flavor and technique. We may be enchanted by new flavors, but we also hold our own culinary traditions dear. As preservers of the culinary secrets that are passed down from our parents and grandparents, we instead incorporate new flavors into tried and tested techniques.
That is fusion food.
Do your research
New fusion cuisine can be as adventurous as adding the irresistible saltiness of anchovies to the mild heat of mustard. Or it could be as simple as adding coconut milk and cardamom to a sweet potato soup instead of using cream.
The best way to get to know new fusion cuisine is to take a loved one and dine out in the most interesting places you can find. Let the hours fly by as you pay attention to the way particular dishes are put together. Allow yourself to journey back in time as you identify the fragrances and flavors you love in particular dishes. Note down anything extraordinary that you might be able to recreate in your own kitchen.
Get that fusion feeling
To get into the new fusion cuisine state of mind, allow yourself to be open to any ingredient. Be it tamarind paste, cilantro, scotch bonnet peppers or black cardamom.
New fusion cuisine, when executed properly, is a blending of cultures that is an integral part of our heritage. Experimentation will always be in our nature. When you cook fusion food at home you are visiting the past as well as creating new classics that you can pass down to your own grandchildren.
The Vindaloo for example, an ever-present staple in Indian culture, is actually a blending of Goan and Portuguese cuisine. Since Goa was under Portuguese rule for 450 years, European colonists had their say in the modification of our favorite spicy curry. Originally a hot stew known as, ‘vindalho,' the addition of chillies from the Goa region make it the dish we are familiar with today.
Don’t get hung up on tradition
In our pursuit for new and delicious new fusion cuisine, we must remember not to become hooked on the way a dish is, by traditional standards, ‘supposed’ to be. Fusion has been influencing our culinary palette for decades, with some of our most loved dishes having unmistakable Asian influences.
If we trace some of our most-loved ingredients to their roots, there is no doubt that we would be surprised by what we find. Coriander is an implicitly mediterranean herb and yet it is a staple flavoring in Thailand. Allow the introduction of foreign ingredients to enrich culinary life in your kitchen. No exceptional dish was born with an absence of creativity.
Who says wasabi can’t play a part in buttery mashed potatoes or Indian chai can’t sneak into a traditional English shortbread?
Keep it simple
Chef and food writer Ching-He Huang said that, “It has to be delicious. That’s the only rule.” Too many flavor combinations can upset the natural balance of the dish.
Just like the age-old saying goes, "less is more" and that is certainly the case with executing the perfect new fusion cuisine dish. Fusion food goes wrong when ingredients are thrown together without thought, often sold for the novelty-factor rather than the seamless appeal of flavors. A stir fry method helps to keep additions simple and effective.
There is no need to channel your inner Heston Blumenthal. New fusion cuisine can be as easy as adding a new spice to a traditional dish. Choose a champagne brand and good company to accompany your fusion dish and you never know, you may have created something future generations will call a 'classic'.
Update your spice rack
Variety is key in the pantry. The most successful way to create new fusion cuisine at home is to make a few additions to your spice rack. Take a classic and add a hint of the unexpected. Saffron, the most expensive and impressive of the spices, is a good place to start.
For something sweet try experimenting with orange and Weinviertel saffron in buttery shortbread. For something savory, a delicious shrimp risotto with pea and saffron is bound to get sparks flying in the kitchen.
Ingredients you need in your pantry
To be a new fusion cuisine connoisseur, there are a few ingredients you should have on hand at all times. Update your pantry with these versatile flavors and you will have the means for exceptional new fusion cuisine whenever the opportunity arises.
- Olive oil. A mediterranean staple, the benefits of which are endless! Read more on this interesting dietary staple here.
- Fish sauce. Easy to source and exceptional in flavor, it is a savory must-have that will give any dish a salty kick.
- Fresh ginger. The heat and fragrance that can be achieved from a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger is not to be underestimated.
- Chilli. Take inspiration from Asian cuisine and give your traditional favorites a spicy kick.
- Lime. The perfect finishing touch to any dish that features fresh ginger and hints of chilli.
- Miso paste. Rich and slightly sweet, this magic ingredient will enhance dishes like you’ve never experienced.
- Coconut milk. An exceptional alternative to cream in soups and sauces, bringing a taste of the exotic.
- Viennese Paprika. Aromatic and fruity, this staple spice will come to life when roasted gently with fats.
As Corinne Trang, author of Food Lovers Vietnamese: A Culinary Journey of Discovery says, “When cultures mix, fusion is inevitable.” The part we play in that revolution is integral to the success of progressive culinary thinking. New fusion cuisine is an ordinary feature in our lives but an extraordinary feature in the shaping of our history.