What is Fusion Cuisine?

Dinner time is fast approaching, and you’re in a cooking rut—you have no idea what to make. You begin to mentally rattle off some of your favorites, and nothing is exciting you. You’re in the mood for something globally inspired but the usual suspects like Italian, Korean, or French aren’t tickling your fancy. What are you going to do? Enter: fusion cuisine.

Now you can do absolutely anything. You have a limitless world of ingredients and combinations to play around with. But you need to know the basics first. Fusion cuisine is the combination of ingredients, techniques, and flavors from two or more different geographic regions, culinary traditions, or cultures. If this term is new to you, you’ve probably dined on a lot of fusion fare without realizing it. For example, Tex-Mex is one of the most well-known and well-loved fusion foods. 

Asian fusion cuisine has exploded onto the scene in recent years with its popularity continuing to grow. Why is fusion cuisine so popular? What is its history? And where is it now?

Why is Fusion Cuisine so Popular?

Fusion-inspired food is now one of the most popular and trendsetting cuisines out there. The key to its success lies in its versatility. It gives chefs and home cooks alike the freedom to experiment and try ingredient and flavor combinations they’d never thought of before. 

Check out this recipe for smoky harissa roasted potato wedges. This dish takes the fragrant spices of Morocco and combines them with the classic American snack – a potato wedge. This is just one of many examples that showcase the versatility of fusion cooking. 

When you’re not restricting your ingredients to specific culinary cultures, your cooking will never be boring again. Through trial and error, you can assess what works and what doesn’t, and you can begin to create some really exciting dishes. 

Fusion cuisine can also be a portal to new flavors and experiences for people. If cooks are offering diners something familiar but with new elements, people begin to develop their palates and start to explore more cuisines. 

The most convincing argument for fusion food’s popularity, is the simple fact that it tastes good. Chefs and food writers have embraced the freedom provided by fusion cooking to create some exciting new flavor profiles.

The History of Fusion Cuisine

Fusion cuisine hasn’t always been so popular. Until recently, the view held of fusion cuisine was that it was somewhat of a novelty and not worthy of contending in the culinary super leagues. 

But fusion cooking has actually been around for centuries. As humans began reaching out to explore the far-flung corners of the globe, they took their unique culinary culture with them. They also found themselves transported to regions with completely different ingredients and flavors. This is how Americans ended up with one of the world’s best-loved foods: pasta. Whilst the precise history of pasta is hard to pin down, it’s most likely that it was a derivative of early Asian noodles. 

Another hidden fusion food is fish and chips. Whilst primarily associated with the United Kingdom, the dish that came to be known as fish and chips actually started life as a fusion of Belgian, French, and Jewish cuisines. 

In Asia, countries like Malaysia have a rich history of fusion foods. Due to the country’s different ethnicities and the strong culinary and historical influence of Chinese culture, Malaysia grew into a literal boiling pot of exciting fusion foods.

British/Indian fusion has a long history. Dishes like Kedgeree were adaptations of Indian rice and lentil dishes tailored to a British palate. 

Fusion cuisine also has historical roots in Latin America. During the 19th and 20th centuries, Argentina became a hub for Italian immigration. What emerged was a culinary culture unique from the rest of the continent. 

With a long history that has until recently been obscured, fusion food is back with a bang. Some of the world’s culinary trailblazers are cooking and advocating for fusion cuisine. 

Modern Fusion

Now we’ve seen the history of some fusion foods, what does modern fusion food look like? Latin fusion has been a rising star in recent years, with a cuisine coming out of Peru called Nikkel. There has been a history of Japanese immigration to Peru, and the effects of that are showing in the cuisine. A typical Nikkel dish will consist of fresh fish, lime, and vegetables, as well as more Japanese ingredients like miso and soy.

The best example is the Nikkel ceviche, which is a Japanese take on the Peruvian national dish. 
Asian fusion remains a trendy cuisine. Due to the versatility of many Asian ingredients and flavors, they tend to lend themselves well to other foods. This recipe for Bulgogi Burgers takes the American hamburger and gives it a kick with Korean flavors. 

In the US, California Cuisine has often been described as a fusion food culture. It blends elements of Mexican, French, Italian, and East Asian foods. Asian fusion, in particular, has become an incredibly popular cuisine in the US. 

Chef Wolfgang Puck has been at the forefront of the fusion revival for some time now. Modern fusion cooking isn’t just for elite-level chefs, though. There are a lot of simple and delicious fusion recipes out there. Marry the west coast of India to Italy in this recipe for Goan curry bean and orzo soup.

Start Your Fusion Journey

Think you’re ready to take on fusion cuisine now that you’ve read this guide? You’ll be amazed how quickly you can start cooking delicious fusion dishes from home. 

Give yourself a head start and stock your pantry full of amazing spices and seasonings to take your fusion cooking adventures.