A little bit ago, Jed and I experimented with a little “Fusion” cooking to prepare ourselves quite a light and summery little meal in the heart of winter.
We were making dinner one night at my place, and we had all sorts of nonsense ingredients all piled up. We were scratching our heads, looking up at the ceiling, with our mouths open and no idea what to do! Hmmm…derrr…. Just kidding! We have creative minds, and had a lot of ideas, but we had to decide!
Jed brought over a some plantains, an avocado, limes, and a ripe papaya.
I had the usual staples, and we used from that garlic, onions, fish sauce, fresh jalapenos, and frozen shrimp.
First Jed made some TOSTONES (twice fried plantains). I don’t remember what all goes into it but it was pretty simple.
- He peeled and sliced the plantains, about 1/2 inch thick or so
- Then he fried them in a skillet with a generous amount of oil in it till they got soft
- He smashed them flat with a flat object, sometimes his bare hands
- Then he refried it to a crisp
- And twinkled it with a some sea salt
I made some guacamole to dip them in, and here’s my guac recipe, it’s the shit.
- 1 avocado
- 1 garlic clove, pressed, or finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno, minced (leave the seeds if you’re not a wimp)
- the juice from 1/2 lime
- THAT’S IT
Combine and smash it all up with a fork.
The last dish was the ripe papaya and shrimp salad. I guess this was the only real Viet-Mex fusion dish on our dinner menu. Typically a Vietnamese papaya salad is made with a young, green papaya, because of it’s crunchier texture and because of it’s very mild flavor. A ripe papaya is definitely the opposite of that: soft, juicy, and very pungently sweet. I started to shred it on a mandolin, but it was just pure carnage, so I opted to finely julienne it by hand with a knife. This salad with it’s juicy sweetness, complimented the other things we prepared with it QUITE WELL!
Here are the limited ingredients I used for the salad:
- 1 ripe papaya, julienne cut
- about 1/2 lb shrimp, poached and halved length-wise
- 1 jalapeno (I de-seeded them here, because these peppers were HOT AS FUCK, I found out the hard way)
- 1/2 red onion, paper thin slices
- the juice from the other 1/2 of that lime
- a couple squirts of fish sauce to taste (adding more means it’ll be saltier)
Toss everything up! Be warned, this is a very WET salad, but it was MUY DELICIOSO.
So that was our little Viet-Mex fusion dinner. It made me see a lot of similarities in flavors and textures in both cuisines. Both use light, fresh, crisp ingredients, and favor acidic and spicy flavors. Looking forward to having a side of nachos with my next bowl of pho!