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Flavor Mash-Ups Bring Excitement to Menus & Packaged Foods

Editorial consulting by the Culinary Institute of America

What was once a crème brulée, is now a butterscotch miso crème brulée from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. The classic Japanese spicy tuna handroll is now a sushi burrito from San Francisco based Sushirrito. Sriracha mayonnaise is one of the trendiest sandwich and dipping spreads on today’s menus.

Flavorful and unexpected mash-ups like these are being seen on menus across America.  They’re also appearing on consumer package goods, from R.W. Garcia’s Lentil & Turmeric Tortilla Chips to Krave’s Wild Blueberry Beef Bars, the fusion craze allows chefs to put together sets of flavor combinations that work well in concert with each other.

The Global Fusion Movement is about embracing authentic flavors from around the world and creating innovative ways to meld them together and mix them with our favorite standbys.  With social media and TV offering culinary education and global travel to the masses, food manufacturers and chefs are taking hold and beginning to leverage that sense of adventure.  Global flavors, whether spice blends from North Africa or Kaffir lime from Thailand, infiltrate everything from breakfast and snacktime to desserts and ready-to-eat foods.

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With the world at our fingertips, it’s tempting to include an exotic ingredient or even substitute more traditional ingredients with those from another culture. For instance, we could substitute Wild Blueberries for mango in a Mexican Corn Salsa. This would not only showcase the Wild Blueberries in a unique way but also add color and some sweet tart zing to this ubiquitous condiment.

I’ve included a recipe so you can see for yourself!

Wild Blueberries are sweet, tart, and tannic and lend themselves to a wide variety of global flavors that grow in drastically different environments.

Combine frozen Wild Blueberries with tropical ginger in a smoothie and you have a great fusion of superfoods that satisfies one’s nutritional needs as well as the desire for exciting flavor combinations. Add dried Wild Blueberries to the traditional apricot, fig, and almond garnish in a Moroccan Lamb Tagine and you have a North American-North African twist on this authentic dish of game meat and dried fruits.

Wild Blueberry salsa, anyone?

Carnitas Tacos with Wild Blueberry and Charred Corn Salsa

Yield: 6 portions

2 lbs pork shoulder
6 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, peeled and quartered
3 cups orange juice
1 Tbsp Cumin, ground
1 tsp Oregano, dry
2 Tbsp salt

1 cup frozen Wild Blueberries
1 ear corn, fresh, grilled, shucked
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, minced
1/4 cup lime juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp salt

12 corn tortillas, 6-inch
1/2 cup sour cream
6 lime wedges

1. Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Season pork with cumin, oregano, salt and pepper and place into an oven proof dish.
3. Add onion and garlic cloves, heat on the burner until the liquid boils, cover with foil and place into the oven. Cook for 3 hours or until meat is fork tender and most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Remove the foil and shred the meat. Mash the garlic and onion and mix with the meat, or remove if desired.
5. Place the pan on the stove and cook on medium heat until the liquid has evaporated and the meat begins to fry in its own fat. Continue to fry the meat until light browned, stirring occasionally.
6. For the salsa, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and adjust seasoning as desired.
7. To serve, heat the tortillas on the burner over the flame or in a heated cast iron pan.
8. Place ½ cup of meat into each tortilla and top with ¼ cup of salsa.
9. Garnish with sour cream and lime wedges

About the Author 

Chef Rebecca Peizer, C.H.E. C.E.C.
Associate Professor of Culinary Arts
Culinary Institute of America at Greystone

Rebecca’s passion for food set her on a path to the Culinary Institute of America where she graduated in 2000. From there, she set off to New York City where she became a private chef. She took her next big step in the culinary world when she moved to California and opened Roux, a restaurant in St. Helena in the heart of the Napa Valley. Roux quickly took off and theSan Francisco Chronicle named it Top 10 Restaurants in the Bay Area 2001. On the heels of that honor, Food & Wine named her Top 10 Sous Chefs in America 2002. Over the course of her career, Rebecca has had the opportunity to work with many great chefs including Jacques Pepin, Martin Yan, Bradly Ogden, Cindy Pawlcyn, and Julia Childs. She has catered events for presidential candidates, Napa Valley winemakers, and prominent artists, and now shares her passion for food and wine with students at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley.