Fusion Cuisine and The Ascension of Cultural Cuisine

Do you know that fusion cuisine blends the culinary traditions of two or more nations to create one innovative and sometimes very interesting dish? It tends to be more popular in culturally diverse and metropolitan areas, where there is a wider audience of lovers for such cuisine.

So let’s learn a little bit more about it.

The Birth Of Fusion Cuisine

Although the term “fusion cuisine” is relatively new, the concept has been around for many centuries. According to Natasha Geiling at Smithsonian.com, fusion cuisine, defined as “the blending of culinary worlds to create new, hybrid dishes”.

As cultures began to lap, it was only natural that new dishes were created, when people shared and combined cooking styles and ingredients to create new concepts and flavor profiles. The Best example of early fusion cuisine is Italian Spaghetti, which would have never existed without Italy’s exposure to Chinese noodles.

Fusion cuisine dates back to the 1980s, when chefs Roy Yamaguchi and Wolfgang Puck began to intentionally combine flavors from different cultures. Today, some of the most widely practiced examples of fusion cuisine are combining European and Asian foods.

For example, you can find Vietnamese spring rolls on the menu of a French restaurant, while a wasabi reduction sauce might be used on a potato roast. In the hands of properly experienced culinary profs, these fusions can be wildly successful. Another way for fusion that other cooks take is to focus on simply combining the culinary traditions of two or more Asian nations.

This type of cuisine was inspired by natural occurrences, as people from different countries exchanged recipes and ideas. Pan-Asian fusion cuisine tends to be more forgiving and less difficult to pull off well since many Asian countries share common threads in terms of culture, as well as ingredients and seasonings used in their culinary heritage.

The Ascension Of Cultural Cuisine

A lot of tasty goodness within the contemporary dining scene owes a substantial amount of its popularity to excellent cross-cultural pairing and multilateral experimentation of culinary elements.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Korean taco and nothing malicious about the combination of kimchi and hot sauce, nothing terribly iconoclastic about bulgogi wrapped in billowy tortillas. If anything, the Korean taco represents a creative moment in foodie culture, the blending of two seemingly disparate taste profiles into a surprisingly tasty and palatably coherent meal.

Best Fusion Dishes You Should Try Out

Below you can find some dishes as examples of “signature” dishes whose origins exemplify the blending of cultures into a classic fusion dish.

Bánh Mì

It’s a typical Vietnamese street food that combines crunchy, salty, and spicy notes to the delight of sandwich lovers everywhere. This typical Vietnamese sandwich represents a prime example of fusion food. A traditional bánh mì is made of meat (often pâté), pickled vegetables, chilies, and cilantro served on a French baguette. From the pâté to the mayonnaise, the influence of French colonialism here is clear as day. Held together by the crucial French baguette, the typically Vietnamese sandwich speaks of Vietnam’s colonial past. 

Vindaloo

Vindaloo is an omnipresent staple in Indian restaurant’s repertoire. It is actually a blend of Portuguese and Goan cuisine. Goa, India’s smallest state, was under Portuguese rule for 450 years. The name itself is a derivative of the Portuguese vinho (wine vinegar) and ahlo (garlic), two ingredients that give the curry its unique taste. The dish is a replication of the traditional Portuguese stew Carne de Vinha d’Alhos, which was traditionally a water-based stew.

Ramen

It is the fluorescent orange, white, or clear broth of ramen noodles that is a distinctive element of the Japanese culinary scene. The real dish, however, remains one dish that claims roots from a traditional Chinese noodle saltier, chewier, and more yellow due to the technique of adding alkali to salty water during the cooking process and creating a dish known as Shina soba, literally “Chinese noodle.” The name for the dish gradually tempered with time (Shina is a particularly pejorative way to describe something as Chinese) and came to be known as ramen, but its imperial history remains.

California Roll

The California roll is a classic example of “American sushi”, early fusion cuisine incorporating new ingredients into traditional Asian recipes. The actual origin of this item is fuzzy at best, because like so many other popular dishes, the California roll has evolved.

Thai Red Curry Risotto

This dish takes a northern Italian staple and infuses it with a traditional Thai flavor. Made from arborio rice, risotto is a standard and classic dish in Italy. This rice dish is often paired with all sorts of flavors, including mushrooms, seafood, and butternut squash. While risotto is not devoid of its own flavor, it has a very subtle taste that makes it a perfect accompaniment to stronger flavors. It is the ideal vehicle for the creamy sauce made of red curry paste and coconut milk that is traditional in Thailand. Not too spicy and a bit sweet, red curry is a good segue into Thai spices if this is new territory for you. Many versions of this dish will add in basil, soy sauce, and baby bok choy to achieve a more authentic Thai flavor profile. Likewise, you may also find this dish topped with tomatoes or pineapple, as is traditional for red curry dishes.

Beef and Kimchi Fried Rice

This fusion dish combines components of Chinese and Korean cuisine. Kimchi is a mix of vegetables, typically cabbage and radishes, that are fermented, salted, and seasoned. It is a household staple within Korean culture and is served at nearly every meal. While it can be eaten on its own, it is usually served as a side dish. Kimchi has a very strong and distinct flavor, which can be overwhelming and a bit disconcerting to those with less adventurous palates.

However, the combination of the marinated beef and stir-fried rice subdues and balances out the sour and spicy flavors of the kimchi. Some versions also include a whole fried egg with a runny yolk atop the dish, which adds yet another layer of flavor to the meal. If you are a kimchi novice, this fusion food is the perfect way to try it out.

Brussel Sprout Sushi

There seem to be only two mindsets when it comes to Brussel sprouts: you either really love them or truly hate them. The lovers of this vegetable are convinced that those who dislike Brussel sprouts have never had them prepared correctly. With that in mind, brussel sprout sushi is a fusion food you must try regardless of your relationship with this vegetable. In this concoction, the Brussel sprouts are pan-fried, which cuts some of the bitterness of the vegetable and gives it a nice crunchy texture. The sprouts are then chopped and enveloped within the traditional sushi roll layers of nori and white rice. Not only does anything taste good fried, but the nutty and savory texture of the vegetable is also balanced out by the subtle flavors of the rice and seaweed. There has never been a more delicious way to eat your vegetables.

So if you are feeling adventurous and looking to expand your culinary palate, try these seven fusion foods that are sure to whet your appetite 🙂

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