It’s taco time but not as you know it. This week, I’ve been thinking a lot about fusion cooking and how it should be celebrated.
There are fundamental principles in food which help guide us in the kitchen but dipping into various cultures for inspiration drives innovation and new flavour combinations. To me, it’s less about tradition and it’s all about balancing flavours. Our menu at Sprout has so many influences from around the world and having access to all that knowledge and history should be utilized and celebrated.
The best chefs in the world are tapping into Chinese, Japanese and many other rich food cultures because the history is vast with so much inspiration, then using their skill to refine and adapt in a fine dine style. We don’t question their authenticity for breaking the rules, so be creative, eat well and add a spoon of miso to your Carbonara!
Chinese Kung Pao paired with the principles of a taco makes for exciting cooking. There’s not a lot that doesn’t work wrapped up in a corn tortilla; it’s gotta be salty, meaty, crunchy and have a fresh vibrant acidity.
Gooey sweet and savoury aubergines cooked in a kung pao sauce, pickled green chilli & shallots bring the acidity of a salsa, slices of creamy avocado, Thai basil adds a unique anise flavour and a good squeeze of lime delivers a classic zing.
It’s unapologetically fusion and we love it!
For the aubergine
- 2 tbs neutral oil
- 2 aubergines, diced
- 1 tbs roasted peanuts
- 4 shallots, sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbs toasted sesame seeds
- 1 tbs Thai seasoning sauce
- 1 tbs oyster sauce
- 1/2 tsp dried chilli
For the pickled chilli & shallot
- 3 tbs hot water
- 3 tbs rice vinegar
- 1 tbs sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 3 green chillies, sliced into rounds
- 3 shallots, sliced into rounds
- 8 soft tacos
- 2 avocados, sliced
Toss the aubergines well in olive oil and salt & roast for 15 mins until lightly browned 210°C.
Toss the peanuts in a little oil and season lightly with salt. Roast for 5 – 10 mins.
Bring a wok to a medium heat. Add the oil, once shimmering cook the shallots for 5 mins until lightly frazzled. Then add the garlic until it’s sweetened.
Add the aubergine, the sauce, sesame seeds and dried chilli
Remove from heat once everything is coated in the marinade
For the pickled chilli and shallot
Pour the hot water over the rest of the ingredients and stir until the sugar and salt has dissolved.
Allow the pickle liquid to cool.
Slice green chillis and shallots and submerge in the pickled liquid and set aside for 20 – 30 mins.
Building the taco
Bring a dry pan to a high heat and toast each side of the tortilla lightly
Starting with your tortilla as the base, add some sliced avocado, a spoon of kung pao aubergine, top with pickled green chilli and shallot with a drizzle of the pickle liquid
Top it off with Thai basil and a good squeeze of lime juice
Sprinkle over some of the roasted dry chillies and sesame seeds and enjoy