Last Updated on May 29, 2021 by Ed Joven
Fusion cuisine has been all the rage lately. Brazen chefs have branched out from their own traditions and borrowed from other culinary styles, in the process forging new and unexpected dishes spanning geographic and cultural landscapes.
It sounds intimidating. After all, how does an amateur chef go about successfully combining sushi with burritos, or falafel and pasta? It’s not only possible, but easy to do with a little bit of intuition and a healthy balance of tradition and playfulness. If you’re looking to spice things up in the kitchen, combine two favorite dishes, or even clear some leftover ingredients from your fridge, here are some tips for tastefully creating your own fusion masterpieces at home.
Brainstorm Flavor and Texture “Twins”
There are many foods and flavors that resemble each other but have small differences between them, be they in flavor, origin, or cultural use. By finding the “twin” food or flavor for an ingredient you commonly use, you can make small substitutions while learning how nuances in flavor and texture can complement each other and add something new and exciting to the old stand-bys. This can provide a structured way to combine elements of different cuisines while retaining the essence of what makes the dishes so successful in the first place.
Play Around with Meal Kits
Meal kit delivery services send you boxes full of all the ingredients, spices, sauces, and accoutrements you need to create a recipe at home. Meal kit companies offer a huge variety of culinary flavors, focuses, and dietary accommodations. The nice thing about meal kits is that the general recipe is defined for you, making it easier to substitute a little something here and there without the risk of screwing up. And you can customize your meal to all sorts of dietary needs, from vegan to plant-based to Keto-based diets. Continue reading for more about how to playfully and deliciously start experimenting with your own fusion meals at home.
Summon Your Inner Child
Maybe, as a child, you were prone to joyously pouring six different kinds of breakfast cereals into a bowl or racing down the soda fountain machine and dispensing a torrent of each flavor into your cup. Okay, don’t do that. But cooking can be playful, and a little reckless. If you combine your childlike sense of experimentation with the refined tastes you’ve acquired as an adult, you may just stumble upon some delicious ingredient mash-ups you would’ve overlooked had you relied solely on your grown-up sensibilities. Nobody’s saying you should throw random ingredients into a bowl without caution, but next time you make soup, or stew, or even a dessert, let a little bit of your inner child out, throw caution to the wind, and have some fun. You may just stumble upon a delicious new creation.
Take a Page from the Experts
Though completely opposite in terms of food and philosophy, chefs David Chang and Wolfgang Puck are two chefs known for popularizing fusion cuisine. Both chefs have written books that chart their early experiences with foods, their philosophies, and the inspirations to make such daring but ultimately successful leaps in the food world.
Reading books by masters can give you some phenomenal insight into their creative and technical processes, and just may give you the courage you need to step out of your comfort zone and experiment in the kitchen.
Start Small but Think Big
Let’s face it, your first fusion experiment isn’t likely to be a mouthwatering success. That’s why it’s a good idea to start small by playing with textures, substituting flavors, and narrowing down what it is that makes a certain dish pop, and how you can retain that pop while adding unfamiliar elements. But even as you move slow, think big. Constantly ask yourself how a dish might benefit from unusual flavors, and even if you don’t implement it right away, or it takes some time to succeed, you’ll find that having experimentation in the back of your mind will expedite the process and make it easier to create fun, surprising, delicious new meals.