Fusion Family Style
This week one of the many cousins from Sabah, East Malaysia, and his family is here in holidaying in Perth. There is food. Lots and lots of food. Not fancy. Not restaurant standard. Not painstakingly thought out. Not complicated. Not towered nor stacked nor served in trios or quartets. Not garnished. Food we like. Food we are good at Making. Food we want to share with our family. Fusion.
Just for example on Monday night the table was loaded with Vegemite and Mozzarella on Toast for fussy son #2, satay beef in gravy not on skewers, bok choi cooked in single malt Irish whisky (duty free) because we’d run out of Chinese rice wine, scallops cooked plainly in olive oil, portobello mushrooms sliced like steak and fried, rolls of smoked salmon, rolls of leg ham (no olek-sambal aioli to pull the influences together)
and, best of all, something straight out of the back yard.
That’s what I admire so much about the way the Chinese cook: they use everything they have. In family cooking there is nothing too humble to put next to the grand. My Mother In Law (MIL) plucked these from the back yard.
The leaves of the sweet potato plant which grow haphazardly in the yard, the tubers themselves too small and knobbly to use. So she uses the leaves. Washes and washes and washes them and blanches for 2 minutes. She fries the typical Chinese Malaysian blend of aromatics for vegetables of red chili, minced garlic, dried prawn and salt in light olive oil (fusion) until golden and then chucks in the potato leaves and stir fries for 2 minutes.
Back in Sabah she would use Sayur Manis (Malay) or Tzh Tzai Choi (Hakka).
One can breath in the vitamin and iron vapours coming off this dish. It is perfectly balanced as a nutritional compliment to small amounts of protein and rice of a simple family meal and tonight it is a flavoursome high point to the melange of dishes on offer.
My cousin also tells me snow peas and snake beans can be cooked in the same way.
Sit Fan (eat food)
Eat Fusion food without spotting the influences, the flavours. Without scoring points for identifying the most polarised ingredients matching one another. Eat what your family thinks is good.