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What’s the Difference Between Pan Asian and Asian Fusion Food?

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As food trends emerge and adapt to diner tastes, competition and experimentation in the industry, there are many phrases thrown around to describe the food you will encounter in restaurants. This can often leave many diners puzzled about what they are really ordering. One type of cuisine that is currently making the rounds is fusion food, but what exactly does this kind of food entail and how do you tell if you are actually receiving it? In this feature, we take a look at what Asian fusion and pan-Asian food are and their differences.

What is Fusion Food?

In short, dishes that infuse the elements of different culinary traditions are classed as fusion cuisine or fusion food. Fusion food can also refer to the combination of different types of cooking and can be presented to the diner in various forms. Fusion dishes can also be based on one particular culture but prepared with the ingredients and combination of flavours linked with another culture. The purpose of fusion food is to provide diners with unique and imaginative dishes that offer new flavours and culinary experiences. 

Although cuisine of this type does not need to be classified with one particular cuisine, the dominant or the desirable culture to the chef will often be used in its classifications, for example, Asian fusion food.

Fusion food has been making waves in the culinary scene for years, and although many trace its origins back to the 1970s; it has arguably been around for many centuries, extending back to when missionaries and great wonderers would bring their traditions over to other cultures, and they would share their traditions and ingredients.

When referring to fusion food, the most renowned option is Asian Fusion. Even to this day, the combination of western and eastern cuisine is standing the test of time. You can read all about the current boom of Anglo-Japanese food in London in our latest feature. Fusion food has become so popular over recent years that it has even be recognised as a national cuisine in itself, examples include the Peruvian Nikkei cuisine that uses Japanese spices and seasonings with Peruvian ingredients.

The problem is that as the hype for fusion food continues, there are many establishments that claim to serve Asian fusion cuisine that fall short of the promise. This leaves diners confused when they realise the meal they have ordered is not fusion food but instead is classified as pan-Asian cuisine. So, what is the difference?

What is Pan-Asian Cuisine?

When applied to restaurant establishments, pan refers to a menu that includes a number of distinguishable dishes from one particular cuisine; therefore, pan-Asian cuisine are restaurants that offer all the classic dishes from a selected eastern culture, and these do not necessarily have to be located in an Asian country. There are many restaurant establishments all over the world that offer diners a taste of Asia.

Asian cuisine can be split into four over-arching categories depending on its location in the continent: west, central, east or south. Western Asian cuisine is all the food that originates from the Middle East. Central Asian cuisine is cuisine originating from centrally-located countries such as Kazakhstan; however, the cuisine within central Asia takes inspiration from both its neighbours in the west and east. Southern Asian cuisine, also known as Desi cuisine, has strong roots in Hindu beliefs and customs. Southern Asian cuisine includes food from India. Whilst Eastern Asian cuisine is often referred to as ‘oriental’, and this is what we specialise here at Oriental Mart. This concerns the food from China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia and Taiwan.

The staples of Eastern Asian cuisine include rice, noodles and beans, and you can expect these to be incorporated into many of the popular dishes on the menu in Asian restaurants. This cuisine has evolved to include the use of oriental sauces, oils and fats in the combination of ingredients.

Now you know the difference between Asian fusion and pan-Asian food, which one will be you testing out next in your kitchen? Be sure to share your dishes with us on our social media!

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