Fusion cuisine. I said it. If you groaned or turned your nose up, read on.
Fusion food has a bad reputation, largely due to its alarming soar in the 90′s and early 2000. However, incorporating various cultures’ ingredients, flavours, and cooking techniques was not a novel idea. Fusing flavours found within geographic proximity has been an integral part of gastro-evolution. Take, for example, Malaysian cuisine’s complex yet balanced flavours that are influenced by Malay, Indian, and Chinese ethnic groups. Or what about the bánh mì, a (dare I say) byproduct of French colonization in Vietnam that’s cherished by many. Unsurprisingly, as the world shrank, the blends also grew more peculiar.
Modern fusion’s flaw lies in the attempt to re-conceptualize it through awkward, nonsensical dishes. What I’m trying to say here is don’t throw the martini out with the lychee-tini (gag). If an experimental combination tastes great, why shun it because it’s considered “fusion”? In the same breath, don’t try to capitalize forcibly on a culinary trend while disregarding its origin.
Here’s my example of an accidental marriage between two unlikely flavours. I’m a fan of borscht but am slighted by the bright pink colour that sour cream creates. While it provides the necessary creaminess and tanginess, I desired an alternative to dairy. One day, I was simmering some borscht while The Cowboy was scooping avocados for his fantastic guacamole. “Hmm….” I wondered. I ladled some soup, topped it with some gauc, swirled, and took a bite. On the spot, a Mexi-Ukrainian fusion dish was born and there’s no crime in that. The zesty lime juice and cilantro lent a complimentary brightness to the substantial soup and the creamy avocado melded beautifully with the beets. We tossed in a few blue corn tortilla chips and dinner was served.
What are some of your favourite fusion dishes?
Borscht with Guacamole Recipe
- 2 lbs beef bones with meat attached (e.g. neck, shank, ox tails)
- 4 red beet roots, peeled and diced
- 4 large tomatoes, peeled *, seeded, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, cut in half
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 onions, cut in half
- 1/2 head of cabbage, sliced thinly
- 1 small can of tomato paste (12 oz)
- Tie in cheesecloth: 2 bay leaves, 8 black pepper corns, 4 cloves of garlic
- 4L water
- Salt and pepper
* Peel tomatoes: score an X on the bottom of the tomato. Dunk in boiling water for 30 seconds or until skin loosens. Peel
- Throw everything except the cabbage and guacamole into a stock pot. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 2 hours with lid on but slightly ajar. Skim the fat and scum that floats on top periodically.
- Remove and discard the celery, onion, and cheesecloth sachet. Remove beef bones, separate meat from bones. Discard bones and chop the meat up.
- Return the bones to the pot, along with cabbage. Add more water if necessary. Simmer until cabbage is tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Serve piping hot with a dollop of guacamole on top, with a side of corn chips.
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