Fusion cuisine: a cooking manual to mix cuisines the right way
The concept of "fusion cuisine" was first used in the 70s in the USA, when chefs mixed flavours from East and West, especially on the border of Texas and Mexico, the so-called Tex-Mex, in search of a way to surprise diners. Since then this kind of food has gone professional, and has been studied and researched by the most prestigious chefs, and currently it enjoys the highest reputation.
Fusion cuisine consists in uniting elements from different cultures in the dishes. The chefs who do this set out to surprise, obviously, pleasantly. They have to have a deep knowledge of a number of regional cuisines or they rely on a multi-ethnic group to prepare them. In this way they combine clean flavours that complement each other and they mix the ingredients with care and judgement.
Enjoying fusion cuisine is a real experience. At first, when you go to one of these restaurants, you will see that they usually have unusual and well designed decoration: each one is turned into a little world, and the owners want each room to be unique and special.
After that, you will discover new flavours, aromas and textures, new ways of cooking, and sometimes you will enjoy dishes that have been prepared as true works of art. Also, the portions are no longer so minimalist and anyway, there are plenty of restaurants with set tasting menus that consist of between seven and fourteen dishes: so, however small the amount of food that is served may be, you will hardly leave feeling hungry.
Among the main types of fusion cuisine are Cajun, Tex-Mex, Balti and Chifa. There are also the brilliant Nikkei, Asian-Mediterranean and Turkish-German fusions. An odd fact is that the "doner kebab" as we know it did not originate in Istanbul but in Berlin.
Now, mash-up dishes are important, where the chefs mix what seem to be impossible ingredients with results that can be flavoursome and agreeable, but sometimes generate culinary monsters. You can find things like the burguerito, which is a fusion of hamburger and burrito; the cragel, which is half croissant and half bagel; or the cronut, from the New York-bases French pastry cook Dominique Ansel, which is a mixture of croissant with donut.
It is clear that fusion cuisine is a universal phenomenon. So much so that all the world's biggest cities have large restaurants that offer it. If you have the opportunity, don't miss out on these:
Chino Latino (London). This offers a curios combination of food as its name says, Chinese and Latin. Located in the Park Plaza Riverbank Hotel, if you go there you will be able to enjoy beautiful views over the river Thames.
Pinch (Moscow). Located in the Patriarch’s Ponds residential district of the Russian capital, it offers European fusion cuisine. If you want to go at a weekend, reserve in good time because it’s often full.
The River Cafe (New York). Under Brooklyn Bridge, it offers an incredible view of the skyline. Its menu offers American and European fusion dishes at unbeatable value for money.
Takazawa (Tokyo). This restaurant offers Japanese and contemporary fusion cuisine. Customers like the friendliness and sense humour of the service. We recommend booking well in advance: there is only room to seat ten people.
This style of cooking has come to Spain too, and is increasingly well established. Proof of that is the large number of restaurants that offer it. Here are five more recommendations:
Don Quijote Madness (Madrid). Located in Madrid’s calle Duque de Sesto, it has a spectacular exhibition of Don Quixote. The menu combines local recipes with others from different parts of the world.
Mandarina Club (Peñíscola, Castellón). Its menu includes both regional Mediterranean produce and oriental cuisine. From its terrace you can see the beach, dominated by the spectacular castle.
DiverXO (Madrid). Located in calle del Padre Damián, and run by the renowned chef Dabiz Muñoz, its dishes don’t come cheap, but the food is excellent and everything is orchestrated like a show ("Xshow", as they call it).
To put your palate and your culinary skills to the test, here is a recipe from chifa cuisine: Chi Jau Kay chicken. Good luck!
- 2 chicken breasts or boned legs.
- ¼ kg of starch (potato starch or corn flour).
- 4 cloves of garlic.
- 1 dessertspoonful of ginger or kion, finely chopped.
- 1/2 cube of seasoning.
- 1 teaspoonful of pisco or brandy.
- 1 dessertspoonful of oyster sauce.
- 1 teaspoonful of mensi.
- 1 dessertspoonful of soya sauce (sillao).
- 3 heads of green onion (Chinese onion).
- 1 pinch of sesame seeds.
- 1 cup of chicken stock.
- ¼ cup of cold boiled water.
- ¼ cup of vegetable oil.
- Salt, pepper and sugar to taste.
Preparation Time: 40 min.
Cooking time: 20 min.
Total time: 60 min.
Season: All year.
Calorie level: Medium.
- Lightly press the chicken pieces to achieve an even thickness. In a cup combine the pieces of chicken with a little of the oil, salt, pepper, ½ dessertspoonful of ginger (kion), 2 cloves of garlic, ½ cube of seasoning, salsa soya sauce (sillao), and mensi. Add the pisco and leave for 30 so that the flavours can penetrate into the chicken.
- Steam the chicken pieces for between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the intensity of the steam until the meat is cooked through.Remove from the steam and allow to cool for a few minutes. Cover the pieces in the starch (potato starch or corn flour) to fry them in hot oil. Remove the pieces, drain them and cut them into small portions.
- In a separate frying pan heat a couple of dessertspoonfuls of oil, add the other half spoonful of ginger, the 2 remaining garlic cloves, the oyster sauce and the chicken stock, and cook for a couple of minutes. Combine a dessertspoonful of starch (potato starch or corn flour) with ¼ of a cup of cold water, stirring till there are no lumps.Add the diluted starch to the preparation with the chicken stock and stir till it thickens. Pour the preparation over the chicken and add a picnic of sesame seeds. Serve and enjoy.
In a nutshell, fusion cuisine is a kind of gastronomy that is full of surprises, cutting edge innovation and creativity. The way in which the different trends have spread shows that this way of cooking alive and enjoys great prestige. Don’t hesitate to try it and you will enjoy a great sensual experience.