Friday, July 09, 2010

The Fabulous Asian-Mexican Fusion Food Fiesta

A few of us, Camille, Peter and I, among others who frequent the Mexican Kitchen Forum of were chatting about this and that some months ago. "Sergio Gómez" started the topic of "Fusion food". We then got the idea to get together in the Pátzcuaro area this summer when Camille was visiting, and cook and enjoy some Asian dishes.

The challenge is to make the dishes with the available local, Mexican ingredients. I'd promote the idea of finding common ground in both Mexcan and Asian dishes, that would would fuse in a harmonious way. Obviously, this approach is not for purists nor traditionalists. We just wanted to have fun and eat some delicious foods together.
We decided to have the vent on July 4th at our home on the Rancho, but nature and a broken water pump intervened, so we moved it to the home of our friend Didi. See La Semana Ch***ada, on my other blog, Surviving La Vida Buena, Amazingly, it all came together and it was very enjoyable, despite the water shortage here and the various strains.

Here's the menu and explanations of some of the dishes by the cooks.

Appetizers— Entradas
Vietnamese Spring Rolls with rice paper wrappers, shrimp and fresh herbs; Peanut Sauce. — Didi

Vietnamese Springrolls with Thai peanut sauce and Salsa Mexicana con Mango*
The spring rolls consisted of red leaf lettuce, cilantro, mint (should have had basil time) and shredded jicama and carrot with prawns, wrapped in a rice paper leaf.
The peanut sauce was in a base of coconut milk, fresh ground peanuts (because the peanut butter available here is NOT what I consider peanut butter), seasoned with soy sauce, sesame oil, chili sauce (I used Valentinos) and a dash of sugar.
The mango sauce was just a standard Salsa Mexicana (jalapenos, jitomates, onion, cilantro with lime, salt and of course, mangos)"

Marble Tea Eggs, Ginger, soy, vinegar and sesame oil dressing —Don Cuevas. Photo courtesy of

Based on recipes in various Chinese cookbooks, the eggs are first hard cooked, cooled, cracked with the back of a spoon, then simmered for three hours in salted tea, soy sauce, star anise and here, the untraditional chile morita. When peeled, the eggs have a fascinating marbleized effect and a subtle, nutty spice taste.”

Egg rolls made with masa wrappers, chicharrón filling. Sweet and Sour Chiles Rellenos en Cazuela — Peter

Tere and I prepared sweet and sour chiles rellenos and egg rolls with a Mexican twist. Since the sweet and sour sauce was served alongside the chiles it is likely not everyone applied the sweet and sour sauce and there was also a standard salsa of tomato, onion, and flavored with some powdered caldo de pollo to also go on the chiles. The chiles were stuffed with the regular cheese and a mixture of cabbage, onion, egg, and chicharrón.
The egg rolls were also stuffed with the cabbage and chicharrón mixture (minus the cheese) and the wrappers were prepared with my pasta maker using half regular wheat flour and half harina maíz with a bit of corn starch to add crispness, water, and a touch of olive oil. These were also intended to be used with the sweet and sour sauce that was lightly flavored with raspberry and kicked up a notch with just a bit of serrano chile.

Croquetas de Salmón with Mole Sauce on the side. — Ron

Main Courses — Platos Fuertes
Chiles Rellenos en cacerola, Caldillo de tomate. (See description above.) — Peter and Tére
Green Mango and Shrimp Salad,  chopped roasted peanuts— Camille
I did Som Tum, grated green mango and shrimp dressed with lime juice, fish sauce, and palm sugar, topped with crushed peanuts.
Brochetas de Pollo o de Cerdo al Pastor, con pimientos dulces, cebolleta y piña. Don Cuevas.

A take off on carne al pastor, but on skewers a la satay, with some Hue Spice powder in the adobo.”
Vegetarian Mushroom Lo Mein, Mu Hsu style — Don Cuevas.

Fine Chinese noodles, tossed with wild Michoacán hongos and shiitakes, dried lily flowers and tree ears; in mushroom oyster sauce gravy.”

Sides and Salsas

Arroz Frito —Ann and Richard
We brought the fried rice.  It was the basic fried rice recipe from This link should work.

Setas a la Parrilla —Ron

Didi’s Mango Pico de Gallo See * above.

Don Cuevas' Salsa Borracha de Piña y Mango
“The chunks of pineapple used in fermenting the tepache were diced and mixed with fresh mango, red serrano chiles, lime juice and sweet red pepper.”

Shirley’s Purple Asian Plum Sauce

The recipe I used was from the Internet RecipeZaar, called "Asian Plum Sauce"  Check it out.  I didn't have all the ingredients; soooo, here is my recipe."— Shirley   

4 garlic cloves minced
Zest of 1 lime (to replace a 1/2 oz. I didn't have)
1 sm onion minced
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 white sugar
2 cups water
1/8 cup soy sauce (recipe called for 1/8 c. Teriyaki, I didn't have it)
pinch of Hot pepper powder  (recipe. called for 1/2 tsp crushed pizza pepper, I didn't  have)
11/2 pounds of plums pitted and quartered
1 lime juiced
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
1 tsp butter

Place first 9 ingreds. into pot bring to boil stir and cook for 30 mins.
Cool a bit then put in BLENDER to liquify all the solids.  Then STRAIN it back into the pot.
Start to heat it again and when hot add butter and melt.  Mix cornstarch and water and add stirring  and cook to the thickest you want.   It will be thicker at room temp.
I really liked the addition of the " Salsa Chle de Árbol Cosecha Purhépecha" that was on the table at Mariscos La Güera.” — Shirley Ashely

Don Cuevas' Yellow Plum and Chile Perón Sauce:
Don’t ask! It was a RPITA to make."
(Next time, pit the plums before cooking, as it's the lesser of two friegas.)

Peter’s Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Ron’s Mole

Drinks Bebidas
Tepache with green orange and ginger. 

Naranjada de naranja verde, hecha con agua mineral

Agua mineral with Ginger-Sichuan Pepper-Star Anise Piloncillo Syrup (The three above by Don Cuevas)
Beer, wine, assorted spirits

Desserts Postres 

Key Lime Pie — Shirley

Peanut Butter Cocolate Kiss Cookies — Georgia
My contribution wasn't really an Asian fusion dish.....and I am not sure what they are called.  Peanut butter cookies kissed by Hersey's?!”

Great help from Doña Cuevas, Doña Lupe and her son. Mil gracias a Didi for rescing us from impending disaster.

So concludes the First Annual Asian—Mexican Fusion Food Fiesta.

Slide show photos courtesy of Shirley Ashely and Camille Waters. More coming.


Calypso said...

Yum! Had to Google the tea eggs ;-) We had great fusion food in Las Vegas - but happy to be back in Mexico - home tonight!

Rachel Laudan said...

Invite me next time!!!


Marie said...

Looks amazing! I've never added jicama to spring rolls before, next time I will for sure.
Where do you find rice paper wrappers?

Don Cuevas said...

Marie, I get my rice paper wrappers at Kam Man Foods, East Hanover, NJ. I don't know where other cooks get theirs.

Rumor has it that La Frontera, on Calle Abasolo in Morelia has Chinese ingredients. Although it's unlikely, it would be wonderful if it were true.

One could try at El Dragon de Oro, next door to Mercado San Juan in México City, or other nearby Asian stores.

(See my earlier post about La Frontera, under the title, "Bakers' Joy".)

Jícama, though far from identical, is a natural subst for water chestnuts. Lucky Mexico City cooks can get fresh water chestnuts inside the Mercado San Juan.

Don Cuevas

Don Cuevas said...

Rachel, for sure, whenever we plan to do this again. This one was mostly for those cooks in and around the Morelia and Pátzcuaro area.

Interested in hosting one in el D.F.? There one has access to better ingredients.

Don Cuevas

Steve Cotton said...

I had never seen the tea eggs before. They sound great. I am going to try them.

Tancho said...

Looks good! I have seen rice paper wrappers in Morelia... but cannot remember exactly where. I might recall that, maybe. Recall what?

Jack McGarvey said...

That sounds like a delightful meal. Wish I had been there! (Thanks, too, for the recipes.)

My contribution would have been my favorite and easiest Asian recipe: chunks of lightly browned chicken breast cooked with garlic, and combined with broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, snow peas, and fresh tomato chunks simmered in coconut milk which is seasoned with Thai green chile.

I serve this aromatic dish heaped on brown rice (and once over sliced "parsleyed," lightly buttered potatoes, which was fun).

I use the excellent "Thai Kitchen" brand green curry paste, which likely is hard to find in Mexico. (Try requesting it at Wal-Mart; most Wal-Marts are good at fulfilling requests.)

Thai green chile has a unique and exquisite grassy flavor and, like many Asian chiles, no sensation of heat on the tongue at all. Instead, it warms the throat and the entire upper chest in a pleasant way.

One time I used chipolte paste instead of the green chile paste. Tasty, although the color wasn't all that attractive.

Which leads me to ask - is coconut milk used at all in Mexican cuisine?

It should be, because it combines so nicely with chiles.

(PS: Thais would be scandalized to learn that I use brown rice. "That's pig food in my country!" a Thai friend said with disgust when I cooked up a batch.)

Don Cuevas said...

Jack, that would have been very good, if only you could have been here.

I don't know of any use of coconut milk in Mexican cuisine, but I don't miss it, as I find it something I generally don't like it in a dish. For me, it makes the food too rich and not a little "soapy" in taste.It clouds the clear, fragrant and sharp flaors.

But, to each their own.

Don Cuevas

Jack McGarvey said...

Hey, dear fellow, maybe are talking about a different kind of coconut milk?

I use the canned, thicker, riper kind.

Because, like you, I have also found raw coconut milk to be kind of "soapy."

But let me assure you that the riper coconut milk will delightfully enhance any dish adventurous cooks would venture to create.

Especially when seasoned with chiles.

Don Cuevas said...

Oye, amigo Jack;
Either way, I prefer coconut in desserts than in savory dishes. I can tolerate a little in a few dishes, but overall, I'd prefer that it weren't there.

There are some people who dislike cilantro! Imagine! They say it tastes soapy. I love the stuff and can eat it in salsas, salads, soups and chutneys. Or straight.
Thus tastes vary.

Raw coconut water? I have never understood the lure of "cocos fríos", which, by the way, are almost never fríos hereabouts, but "al tiempo". It's basically just slightly sour, slightly soapy water.

Don Cuevas

Cooking in Mexico said...

Don Cuevas,

This meal looks fantastic!

Our loss is your gain -- send Camille back to us soon!