Fusion On All Accounts

A good friend likes to tease me that everything I make is fusion food, or at least I present it that way.

We lived together for a few months, so after a quick bike ride, run, jaunt down to the coffee shop, a through hike of the AT, and long-winded study sessions on Islamic history that turned quickly into vocabulary lessons, I’d cook dinner. Countless times, as he smelled the aroma of sautéing onions and garlic, he’d come in and start in on a deep, booming, easily imitate-able voice that was mimicking one of the Food Network’s ever-so-cheesy announcers. “Tonight we have a pan-Asian fusion of stir-fried broccoli, onions, and carrots accompanied by a green curried noodle dish all finished off by an Indian rice pudding for dessert,” or “We’ll be taking a fusion tour of the Mediterranean for dinner with a Caprese Salad, Falafel with hummus and tzadiki sauce, hmmm?” And, if on the chance that I didn’t mention fusion, he’d always ask “But, is it fusion?”

I’ve never really given into his taunts, nor agreed. For some reason or another I would always say “No! This is original! Nothing fusion about it!” but if he had been here for this mean, I wouldn’t be able to disagree that this meal was all about fusion. I had just learned how to make Chapchae sauce, so I had to try it out. I also had some Brussels sprouts and green beans in my refrigerator. I needed some kind of protein, so I wanted to try out a new recipe with tofu. And what’s a meal without a salad? There was no connecting thread through this meal. It was just a fusion of delicious tastes with no specific continent.

First up: Brussels sprouts and green beans sautéed in a browned-butter sauce. Straight out of the US south.

Round two: Chapchaed broccoli, onions, garlic, and carrots. Nothing but Korea.

Need more?: Marinated and baked tofu. Some strange blend of Asian and Bohemian Bourgeoisie Neo-Hippy.

Put it all over: A Simple Bed of mixed greens with a new green I found in the grocery store that looks a little like plump, vibrantly green Christmas tree leaves. Don’t worry, they’re more delicious than I can describe. Straight up French.

So there you have it, a French based mixed-green bed served with Southern buttery, tender sprouts and beans, sweet-spicy-soy-sauce laden “Pan-Asian-Californian” vegetables, and crisp, baked marinated tofu with hints of sweetness. Hey, at least I hit most of the flavors: sweet, spicy, savory, and a bit bitter with the fresh greens. It’s fusion, baby.

Chapchae sauce

4 Tbs Soy Sauce

2 Tbs Sesame Oil

2 Cloves of Garlic (smashed, chopped, and diced)

2 Green Onion (Only the white part: chopped, and diced)

Brown Sugar (honey, agave, maple syrup, or white sugar also work)

Mix these all together and let sit for a few minutes to let the flavors fuse (fusion!) together a bit. Sautee your vegetables a bit in minimal oil for about one minute, each (that’s right dear readers, you sautee these puppies one kind at a time). When all of them are good and sautéed, throw them all back in the pan, bring to medium-high and after 30 seconds of painstaking delay, pour this sauce in. The soy sauce will quickly evaporate and fuse (fusion!) to all of the veggies, so keep the pan moving. Once the sauce is a bit thick in the pan, cut the heat and serve.

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