We live in a smaller world than several decades ago. With faster travel and immediate messaging around the world, the flavours of one country can become the flavours of another in a second.
Fusion cooking is the combination of key flavours from different countries’ cultures to create something new.
We’re all doing it because the world we live in today is a mix of different cultures. Flavours from other cultures are available on every supermarket shelf, as their vegetables and fruits are available in the produce section.
It’s very exciting for an adventurous cook. You can be inspired just by the look and smell of the various seasonings, sauces and other ingredients.
Take the traditional meatloaf, for example. Instead of bread soaked in milk and just salt and pepper for seasoning, we’re using Mexican hot pepper sauces, Asian teriyaki or soy, French-inspired herbs and whatever suits our fancy to flavour and add texture to the stodgy old meatloaf.
It lifts it to a whole new level, yet the main ingredients are still reasonably-priced enough to feed the family on a budget.
We’re also adding more healthy ingredients such as oat bran for fibre and nutrition; fresh vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, onions and celery for more vitamins, flavour and texture.
It’s all a good thing, but Grandma wouldn’t recognize it.
For more ideas fusing the cuisines of different countries and cultures, pick up a copy of my new book, Jude’s Kitchen, wherever books are sold.
In fact, why don’t you join me in Penticton Saturday at the third annual Authors and Artists Christmas Faire? It’s free and all day, but I’ll be speaking at 2:15 and personalizing books afterwards.
I’ll also be at Summerland’s newest hotel, the Summerland Waterfront Resort, where Local Lounge is, for the Light up the Vines event on Sat., Nov. 26, 12:30 to 2 p.m. There, I’ll be demonstrating an appetizer from the book and you can again buy personalized copies of the book. It would make a great gift.
OOPS: in last week’s column, a line was dropped from the Baked Penne recipe. After adding the sausages, “Add the tomatoes, canned beans and tomato psaste and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens.”
Fried Brown Rice with Pork & Cabbage
This makes a quick and complete meal in one pan and bowl for those busy evenings, using that leftover brown rice you cooked to serve under the stew the night before. (Just make extra). You may vary the flavoured sauces you add to this, substituting what you like. Regular cabbage would also work fine in it.
1/3 head of savoy cabbage
1 tbsp. (15 ml) fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic
1 medium onion
1/2 red pepper
drizzle of oil
1/2 c. (125 ml) water
1/2 lb. (227 g) lean ground pork
1 tbsp. (15 ml) soy sauce
1 tbsp. (15 ml) brown bean sauce
1 tsp. (5 ml) sugar
3 c. (750 ml) cooked brown rice
Shred cabbage, but don’t leave it in strips that are more than a couple of inches long.
Finely-chop fresh ginger and garlic and chop onion in half and shred into strips too. Chop red pepper into small dice.
Heat a drizzle of oil in a wok or deep frypan over medium-high heat and add the onion and ginger, stir-frying for a few minutes. Push it to the side and add the lean ground pork to the middle, turning once it’s browned on the first side, and gradually mixing in the onion.
Push to the side again and add the cabbage and garlic to the middle, turning about for a minute.
Add the water, sauces and sugar, mix and cover for two minutes to allow the cabbage to steam. Add a bit more water at any point if it seems too dry.
Combine it all together and add the cooked brown rice, stir-frying for a few minutes. Cover and lower the heat, letting it cook just until the rice is heated through.
Den’s Asian Meatloaf
The lift of ginger in this is refreshing and different with the spinach, celery and onion. It gives it a distinctly Asian flavour. Den sauteed the onions first so they were soft and sweet, and he made the meatloaf mixture up the day ahead, adding the spinach just before preparing it for the oven. That may not be necessary, but both may have contributed to the final taste and texture.
We lightly browned some baby bok choy, cut in half and sprinkled with a few drops of teriyaki and some sesame seeds, with this.
2 tbsp. (30 ml) finely-chopped fresh ginger
1 medium onion
1 stalk celery
2 cloves garlic
drizzle of oil
1 lb. (454 g) lean ground beef
1/4 c. (60 ml) oat bran
2 tbsp. (30 ml) teriyaki sauce
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) pepper
2 c. (1 l) chopped fresh spinach
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Finely chop fresh ginger. Chop onion and celery and mince garlic.
Saute ginger and onion in a pan with a drizzle of oil over medium heat and stir until onion is translucent. Add celery and garlic and cook for a minute or two longer. Remove from heat.
Add ground beef to a bowl, push to one side and beat the egg, combining it with the ground beef, then the remaining ingredients; chopping the spinach and adding it last.
Add the cooled onion mixture and mix well.
Pack into a loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes. Let stand for five minutes before slicing and serving.