In Southeast Asia, where I grew up, the cuisine has been influenced by many countries: China, Japan, Spain, France, America, and to some extent the Middle East and Northern Africa. So I’ve been practicing fusion cooking my whole life. My mother ran a cooking school and my family operated multiple restaurants. My recipe for shrimp on sugar-cane skewers is a perfect example of Asian fusion food. It became very popular in our restaurants and then spread all over the world. When I see it on menus in restaurants today, it makes me smile.
Asian fusion cooking is about using Mediterranean or American ingredients and, possibly, French techniques in classical Chinese, Thai, or Filipino recipes. I like trying new and exotic ingredients and enjoy looking at trends in the healthy cooking sector. Then I add my own delicious Southeast Asian spin to create new recipes.
Take quinoa, which is a very trendy ingredient right now because of its many health benefits. To me, it has almost no flavor, and because I won’t eat something just because it’s good for me, I have to find a way to cook it so that I crave it. So I did. I took that crunchy Incan grain and added some sautéed shrimp, onions, scallions, and orange bell peppers.
This was a nice start, but quinoa, like rice and pasta, really benefits from a sauce because it’s so naturally flavorless. Luckily, I discovered a food company called Sosu (http://sosusauces.com ) that makes an incredible ketchup with a kick. They’re based in San Francisco. The young owner, Lisa Murphy, experimented with ketchup until she found a really delicious recipe based on the original Chinese formula brought to Britain in the eighteenth century. She makes a spicy sriracha-laced ketchup call Srirachup. I added it to my sautéed shrimp with vegetables. Then I spooned the concoction over the cooked quinoa. Success! If you can’t get your hands on Srirachup or if sriracha is too spicy for you, try making a Thai-flavored sauce using a purée of roasted red peppers, orange tomatoes, a pinch of curry powder, and a dollop of lemongrass.
Asian Fusion Shrimp and Quinoa
2 cups water
¼ tsp. pink Himalayan salt
1 tsp. crushed garlic
1 cup quinoa (red, or black, or white or a combination thereof)
4 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 lb. shrimp, peeled (or skinless, boneless chicken breast cut into 1-inch cubes)
½ cup chopped red onion
4 scallions, chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 (8-ounce) jar Sosu Srirachup (or your own favorite sauce)
1. Bring water, salt, and garlic to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan with a lid.
2. Add quinoa, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
3. Sauté shrimp (or chicken cubes) in the coconut oil in shallow pan with all of the veggies over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. (If using chicken, sauté for 5 minutes.)
4. Add sauce and cook an additional 3 minutes, or until the shrimp are opaque and the veggies halfway between crisp and tender.
5. Spoon sauce over the cooked quinoa.