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For some inspiration

13 Jan

As you can probably tell, I’m a huge fan of fusion cuisine. The blending of flavors and pairing of various cooking techniques bring excitement to familiar dishes and adventure to our culinary adventures.

But recently I’ve found myself stuck in a rut. Part of it is the kitchen (I’ve found that the layout and state of the kitchen greatly influences my desire to cook) and the other part of it is my busy schedule. With so little time to cook, I don’t have time to both cook food that I can easily pack for lunch everyday and experiment with new dishes. (I tried to at the beginning of the year but found that I usually ended up with enough time for one experimental dish which I was stuck eating regardless of the results.)

It’s time to change things. And for once, I know where to begin. I stumbled across this article, which features a new modern, cross-continental preparation of soba noodles. From experience, I’ve found that nearly such dishes are never as fulfilling as the traditional zarusoba which is, in my humble opinion, a nearly perfect preparation for these noodles. But this recipe, may change that for me. I’m excited to see how the cumin and pine nuts interact with the texture of the soba noodles and the arctic char (although, to be quite honest, I will probably end up using salmon).

Once I try it out, I’ll be sure to post the results here so stay tuned!

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I’m back!

15 Nov

flickr/adactio

First off, sorry for the lack of updates recently. Graduate school applications have taken over my life and my immune system decided to go on vacation early this year. I promise I’ll be around more consistently from here on out.

This morning I woke up feeling horrible. Congested, sore throat, coughing, the whole shebang. I felt like I was a walking billboard for some new cold medicine. But after a cup of hot tea (with honey, of course) and this quick read by Helene York over at theatlantic.com, I started to feel a little better.

The article’s title, “What Americans Can Learn From Japanese Cuisine,” is what first caught my attention. What can we learn from Japanese cuisine that we haven’t already? Practically everyone knows what sushi is and can probably name their personal favorite. According to York, it’s the love invested into the preparation of each element of a meal. She uses Yoshinori Horii’s noodle-making presentation at a recent food conference in Napa Valley as an example:

The crowd of 250 or so mostly chefs and food company executives were mesmerized by this simple magic, appreciating the speed, sheer physicality, and elegant simplicity required to make these non-extruded long noodles. He got a standing ovation.

But what I enjoyed the most about this article was her proposal for how we should adopt aspects of Japanese cuisine to our own:

Japanese cuisine has its shortcomings too—high sodium and pickling, almost no whole grains, and a fondness for threatened seafood species—but my point is not to laud or deride. Let’s consider the elements that differ and imagine applying them to our own context. What if we adopted a goal of eating 30 food varieties every day? What if we aspired to wabi-cha cuisine as a complete work of art?

Although this specifically refers to Japanese cuisine, I think it’s a great way to look at all types of ethnic cuisines. We have experienced recent success in adopting other cuisines into our own–just look at the popularity of fusion cuisine today, but I think there is more ground to explore. As already mentioned, beauty and appreciation can also be found in the preparation of the food itself, and I feel that this is the missing puzzle piece in contemporary fusion cuisine. Fusion cuisine seems superficial with all the emphasis placed on blending generalized flavor profiles.

So perhaps what we should be aspiring to now is a new type of fusion cuisine that focuses on the preparation process in addition to the flavors presented on the dish.

 

Thoughts on fusion cuisine

28 Oct

Rain Rannu/flickr

Have you heard of Macanese cuisine? Neither have I, until today. Born and raised in Hawaii, I would consider myself well-versed in the realm of fusion cuisine–after all, it’s basically what I grew up on–but I had never heard of Macau’s unique fusion dishes.

Perhaps it is because Macanese food is hard to come by in the U.S. (as mentioned by the author) but if it is as delectable as described, then shouldn’t at least whispers of it’s magnificence be heard? I mean, any food experience described similar to the following would leave you salivating like one of Pavlov’s dogs:

It arrived looking like a hot mess on the plate, the bird having been marinated in chiles, onions, and garlic, smothered in a spicy, lemony coconut milk-and-butter-based sauce, and cooked to crisp perfection. It was hearty and heavy, yet complex, balancing savory and sweet with a hint of sour and just enough heat that I found myself working away at it with the slightest urgency. The dish is filling the way Brick Lane-style curry is filling, and puts you in the sort of breathless food coma often associated with Thanksgiving.

I hope that another Macanese restaurant will open in L.A. sometime soon (the last one, Macau Street Restaurant, also closed recently) so I can try this African Chicken and more. In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for opportunities to learn more about this unique cuisine.

-Chumbawumba (my new nickname…yayy)

P.S. For those of you who are familiar with Macau cuisine, do you think it shares any similarities with other fusion cuisines? Not necessarily the trendy fusion cuisine we’re used to seeing today, but the fusion cuisine that emerged from the close interaction between different cultures (similar to Hawaii and the plantation experience).