Friday, February 10, 2012

The Fall of Fusion


When I first fell in love with fusion and nouvelle cuisine, I never imagined how vilified the trend would become. By the early 1990s food television, celebrity chefs, and a thriving economy meant that common diners, like me, were afforded the breathtaking and elegant (OK I admit it, often prissy and ostentatious) plates once composed only for the wealthy. In my estimation the backlash began around the same time that Monica Lewinski and her beret (and stained dress) stole the nation's attention. Overnight a changed attitude toward food and politics escorted America into a decade of comfort food. Enter the mashed potato.

Look, I've got no issues with a nice plate of macaroni and cheese. Tuna sandwiches are evidence that God loves us and She wants our tummies to be full and happy. But enough already! A return to fussy plates and an appreciation of fine dining cannot happen soon enough for me. I want to celebrate the past (who can turn down a homey fish stick or ketchup brushed meatloaf?) as well as hope for a better world (pretty little portions on a perfectly plated stage).

The term fusion is no longer used when referring to, for example, Korean tacos. Food lovers are so afraid of offending someone's palate that we coin ridiculous phrases to define what we are eating: new world cuisine, molecular gastronomy, mindful eating. The food world has gotten a little woo-woo. There is a time and place for comfort food. There is a time and place for nouvelle. And fusion has been around since humans first stepped outside of the cave.

If you've read any of my previous posts you know that I have an abusive relationship with my Crockpot. A few weeks ago the dietitian at my local Byerly's demoed a fantastic pulled pork recipe, and I used her technique to the letter (including a rare purchase of dried dip mix and bottled barbecue). Finally, Crockpot success! Now I am exploring new ways to re-purpose pulled pork. Here is a little fusion recipe for you to chew on. It melds well barbecue, southwestern, and Asian flavors.

Chipotle Pulled Pork and Noodle Lettuce Wraps
4 - 6 servings

2 pounds pork roast
1 envelope Lunds and Byerly's Caramelized Onion and Roasted Garlic Dip Mix
(or whatever spices and seasonings you have on hand)
1/4 cup water
1/2 to 1 cup (more if you like it wet, less if you like it dry) of your favorite chipotle barbecue sauce
2 or 3 - 8 ounce packages Shirataki noodles; rinsed, cooked, and dried
Radish Pepper Relish Salad (see recipe below)
1 head Bibb lettuce; washed, dried, and leaves separated

Cook pork, dip mix, and water in Crockpot on low about 12 hours. Shred pork and combine with defatted Crockpot liquid. Stir in barbecue sauce.

Place pork, noodles, and salad on individual lettuce leaves. Garnish with cashews or crispy Chinese noodles if desired. Wrap to form rolled sandwich.

Radish Pepper Relish Salad
Chop a handful of each of the following ingredients:

Red radishes
A variety of hot and sweet peppers
Cilantro
Green onions
Cucumber
Red onion
Avocado

Toss with lime juice, salt and pepper.

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