This Week Simon and Maggie marvel at the British success in putting their own stamp on a Pakistani curry and then celebrate the cross-cultural cuisine of Australia’s own "Father Of Fusion" Cheong Liew.
Cuisines from different cultures have been influencing each other from the time that people and food have crossed borders. Indeed cultural fusion is part of the evolution of cuisines where historically people have borrowed methods and ingredients or adapted their own dishes to suit new environments. In the 1970's "Fusion" cuisine took on a new meaning as a group of well travelled chefs deliberately set out to combine cuisines and define them in such terms as "East meets West", "New World" or "Fusion". Chefs, like Australia's Cheong Liew were motivated to combine cuisines in the pursuit of flavour with some fantastic results, but some attempts by others lacked integrity and resulted in what the critics called "confusion". Fusion cuisine has tended to thrive in countries like Australia, Canada, the US and New Zealand where a variety of fresh produce is available, where there tends not to be a strong historical food tradition and where people have adventurous palates. According to Cheong Liew Australia meets all the criteria and the lack of boundaries allows chefs to let their imaginations run wild.
Simon's first contact with cross-cultural cuisine was the Balti curry. Originating in Northern Pakistan it made its way to Birmingham, England with Pakistani migrants who, from the 1950's to the 1970's, set up little cafes called Balti Houses. The Balti quickly became the curry you had after a night out and a few beers. Already a melting pot of regional influences the British claimed the curry as their own and to accommodate the British taste it was often (and still is) served with chips. In the kitchen Simon makes a delicious corn Balti. The spice base includes, ginger, garlic turmeric, coriander and garam masala making for an extremely flavoursome curry. Simon serves it up in little Balti bowls with a pappadam and, of course, chips. Both Simon and Maggie are amazed to discover that the chips and curry combo actually works!
Simon and Maggie then celebrate the originality of Cheong Liew. Born in Malaysia, Cheong is Chinese, has cooked in many styles and draws on many influences to create often eclectic dishes with amazing textures and flavours. Maggie successfully attempts one of Cheong's more challenging dishes, saltwater duck. The process of cooking the duck in a master stock takes time but the results is moist and succulent. Maggie's own touch to the dish is a fantastic mandarin pickle. Not too sweet, the slight acidity of the pickle compliments the duck beautifully. Simon worked with Cheong for a couple of years and explains how Cheong taught him to cook pork. His White pork with garlic sauce is a great example and again the method of blanching and cooking the pork belly are all about retaining moisture and the result is "melt-in-the-mouth". The pork is infused with the flavour of ginger and the garlic sauce topping is a perfect marriage with coriander providing a fresh touch.
Recipes: - Sweet corn, spinach and potato Balti - Kangaroo with Tongue - Pork with Garlic Sauce - Salt Water Duck - Mandarin Pickle