Heather Little-White, PhD, Contributor
Fusion cuisine is the new phenomenon in cooking. It is called 'fusion' because it combines the ingredients and cooking methods of two or more cultures. As a result, creative dishes emerge, providing more culinary options for the discerning consumer. Many of the unique combinations that have emerged are taken for granted. You may not even realise that what you may be eating is classified as fusion cooking, for example, chilli in a pita pocket.
Though fusing foods from different cultures has been taking place for centuries, it is the recent exposure to this nouveau cuisine that has popularised fusion cuisine. The new trend is part of the offerings in restaurants and hotels, and showcased on cooking shows and in food magazines.
Trendy ethnic foods have long moved beyond bagels, pita bread, tortillas and salsas to variations in pizzas, chop suey and oriental combinations. The choices in foods through fusion cuisine now add variety, adventure and enjoyment to food preparation and dining. Dishes in the fusion menu combine grains with fruits and vegetables, offering more sources of nutrition. Fusion cuisine uses everyday food items in several exciting ways to create dishes like Mexican pizza, couscous-topped Chinese stir-fried vegetables, or black-eyed peas and rice.
Fusing your ingredients is easy if you think of the multicultural range of foods from which we can choose, and the seasonal availability of these foods to keep down food preparation costs.
Fusing your ingredients
Wonton wrappers (Chinese), commonly used to make spring rolls, can be used to wrap thinly sliced jerked pork or chicken (Jamaican), mixed in with shredded cabbage, carrots and steamed. You should have a vegetable steamer as part of your kitchen utensils.
Plantain, which is widely used in Puerto Rico and Central America, is cubed and added to soups and stews.
Lychee (Chinese) can easily be served on top of frozen yoghurt.
Ricotta cheese (Italian) is used for lasagne or to stuff jumbo.
Tofu (Japanese) is sliced for stir-fry dishes or diced for salads or soups.
Lamb (Mediterranean) is marinated in Italian vinaigrette, then grilled or jerked.
Black beans (Latin American) is used in place of red beans, in chillies,
Cooking with yoghurt is one way of fusing cuisine. With the world's attention on the Middle East, you may want to try this easy 'fusion' dish.
1 medium onion, chopped
1lb minced beef
Salt and pepper
2 thick slices day-old bread (crust removed, soaked in milk)
1 cup yoghurt
1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
1. Heat butter and sauté onions until transparent.
2. Remove from heat and set aside. Mix minced beef, onion, egg, bread and seasoning well. Shape into small balls and flatten slightly.
3. Roll in toasted breadcrumbs and brown slowly in butter. Add the yoghurt and mushrooms and simmer for 30 minutes.
Source: Cooking with Yoghurt by Irfan Orga