Peter Gordon, the godfather of fusion cooking, is the inspiration behind these flavoursome recipes
Fusion was that awful catchphrase (or was it a movement?) that at a certain stage, people started to despise as much as some of the dishes it spawned. Cocoa and date dumpling with sea bream foam and wasabi beignets, anyone? But New Zealander and London-based chef Peter Gordon, the godfather of fusion, as he was branded, really did embrace it quite enthusiastically back in the 1990s and I remember dining on delicious and elegant, yet quite robust dishes in his Sugar Club restaurant, once upon a time. Despite many poor attempts to recreate his dishes, chefs sometimes succeeded, and the fusion movement really kick-started trends to push the boundaries with combinations of ingredients. Nowadays, chefs are highly globalised, with an added touch of xenophobia. These days, we’re all focused on local, and in some ways fusion food sounds dated.
But Gordon makes the point that without fusion (or should he really be saying globalisation) the Italians would not have had polenta, as corn and maize originated in South America; Thai cuisine would not have had coriander, which originated in the Mediterranean, and as for us and the spuds? Let’s just not go there.
Regardless of whether or not one thinks that fusion is just fiddling with the classics, Peter Gordon’s has some absolutely fabulous combinations in his books. In blunt hands (like mine) they can make for a very tasty supper. When you take this notion of combining the unusual, it still has to make sense.
I took another look at his recent book, Fusion, and many dishes are worth a second look, even if its just to inspire some creativity. It was full of combinations I knew I had to try. The first was this very tasty frittata, which we altered considerably, quantity wise, but the really clever thing about this was putting a little blob of Greek yoghurt with a sprinkle of sumac on top. This looked awesome and gave a delicious richness to a dish that can be quite dry, if overcooked. If you don’t have sumac, then a little smoked sweet paprika would be fine, or, failing that, some black pepper. The sweet potatoes give it bulk and moistness, ensuring a soft and tasty frittata.
I used buckwheat noodles in the second recipe this week, also from Peter Gordon, which makes an unbelievably umami-packed Asian and Irish topping. My goodness, it was tasty. You could “green” it up considerably by adding things like peas and more baby spinach to it, but I had plenty to go on with by using bok choi.