The weirdest fusion food
With increased migration and easier travel around the world, it’s not surprising that people have taken their favourite dishes and adapted them to suit European cuisines. We take a look at some of the more unusual flavour combinations created by chefs around the world.
Asian spiced European desserts
Eastern spices seem to work so well with creamy, European desserts, and especially with Italian panna cotta. Panna cotta is a creamy dessert, often flavoured with vanilla and set with gelatine. But chefs are experimenting by adding unusual flavours from Asia. At Mu in London’s Knightsbridge, you can finish off your meal with a panna cotta flavoured with zesty lemongrass – a Thai ingredient often used in curries and stir fries. And in Barcelona, chefs at Murmuri have created a jasmine flower flan with ginger ice cream. The Spanish flan is not a tart with a pastry base, as we would think of it in the UK, but a set custard-like pudding. And if that wasn’t enough, Anjali Pathak has created a recipe for a lemon and cardamom panna cotta with blueberry compote. Cardamom is widely used to create a rich, citrusy flavour in Indian curries.
Italian sushi rolls
Not content with a sushi roll filled with salmon, wasabi and sesame seeds, chefs at Sushinho in London have created the Italian sushi roll. It contains calamari, olive cream, basil and cucumber. Sushinho is a Brazilian-Japanese fusion restaurant and uses other ingredients in its sushi rolls including Parmesan and foie gras. But if that’s not enough fusion for you, at Aquarelle in Russia’s St Petersburg they serve tuna sashimi with a spicy coriander and cumin crust (spices more at home in Indian food than in Japanese) along with a paprika vinaigrette and wasabi foam.
Indian, Chinese and Portuguese pasta
OK, so pouring a jar of curry sauce over your freshly-cooked pasta might seem a bit weird. Or maybe not. At the International Taste restaurant in Portugal you can order mushroom ravioli with korma sauce and spaghettini – very thin spaghetti - with lamb curry. In fact, combining soft, eggy pasta with unusual flavours is nothing new. Italian pasta is a great match for smoky, Spanish chorizo and some restaurants have also been known to serve pasta with shredded duck in a Chinese-style plum sauce. Portuguese chef Augusto Gemelli’s cooking style is seen as a fusion of Portuguese and Italian flavours and at Restaurant Gemelli in Lisbon you can order saffron ravioli with shellfish in a tomato and pepper sauce.
Tandoori chicken pizzas have cropped up in most UK takeaway outlets, merging the British love of pizza with curry. But have you ever tried an African or Japanese-themed pizza? At Fire & Stone restaurants in the UK they offer pizza toppings inspired by Africa, the Americas, Europe, Asia and Australasia. There’s the Jakarta pizza, topped with ingredients including satay sauce, mozzarella, chicken, aubergine and roasted peanuts. Or the Koh Samui, with yellow curry sauce, vegetables, toasted sesame seeds and fried Thai shallots. And for a Japanese version, well there’s The Market restaurant in Paris which offers a tuna pizza with cream of wasabi.
The Spanish tradition of nibbling on a few small dishes with a drink is a genius idea, and one that hasn’t escaped the minds of chefs from other cuisines. Asian tapas is a new trend, combining the classic flavours of India, China, Thailand and Japan with the concept of Spanish tapas. And it seems that this fusion is most popular where traditional tapas began: in Spain. At Picasso in Palma, Majorca, you can feast on a Caesar salad topped with Japanese grilled yakitori chicken or Thai prawns, and also Thai chilli and curry-spiced meatballs. And at Barcelona’s Murmuri, they’ll serve you vegetable spring rolls with plum sauce, and a mascarpone millefeuille with tonka beans and cream. Tonka beans are a sweet, scented bean originally from South America.
Indian burritos and wasabi guacamole
Move over slow-cooked pork and pinto beans – the trendiest thing to fill your burrito with is curry. Chula Fused Foods, a street vendor in London, has taken the concept of the Mexican burrito and filled it with rice, kidney beans and curry. But considering that Indian chefs are already filling roti and other flatbreads with curry perhaps that’s not so weird after all. A little weirder is the wasabi guacamole served in London’s Sushinho – a Brazilian-Japanese concept. It’s served alongside blackened butterfish and a daikon slaw.