Before I ever heard the word “fusion” I learned that combining flavors from different cultures leads to delicious new experiences. Growing up in the Dominican Republic, we were one of the handful of Chinese-Dominican families residing in our town. My family’s trade is the art of bi-cultural cooking. Unfortunately, those were different times and while all the men were out learning to cook directly from my Chinese grandfather, my mom and tia stayed home with my grandmother.
As any naturally-born rebel would, I challenged the “men in our family do the cooking” rule and developed a love for cooking that fits in nicely with my passion for health and wellness. Most importantly, I’ve learned to channel my grandfather’s fusion tendencies by combining my bi-cultural heritage with my immigrant experiences to create delicious new recipes utilizing improvisational cooking as my platform.
Are you thinking I made up that term so I can have a fancy way to refer to my inability to follow recipes or stick to one culture when cooking? Maybe. But improvisational cooking is a legit subsection of the cooking foodie community. It’s less complicated than fusion and a lot more fun than traditional cooking. Think of improvisational cooking as you would an abstract painting when thinking about contemporary visual art. Its essence may be traditional but its flavors, aesthetic and nutritional value are up to you to interpret.
While we’re on the subject of health, improvisational cooking is a creative and meditative process, helpful for those of us with highly stressful jobs who need a space to relax and let our minds wander.
This is the recipe for my latest healthy creation: Green Meatballs. All ingredients are organic or locally sourced from my local butcher and farmer’s market. This recipe is gluten-free as I’ve replaced white flour with almond flour.
Green Meatballs (Grass-fed beef meatballs with Argentinian chimichurri sauce)
1 pound beef from grass-fed cows (Get it at your local butcher. Don’t have one? Research and you’ll find one)
1 cup sofrito
1 teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon cinnamon (don’t over-do it)
1 teaspoon paprika
½ cup organic virgin coconut oil
½ cup almond flour
2 tablespoon truffle oil
1 whole large-sized tomato chopped in small pieces
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
- Mix all ingredients in a bowl
- Form small meatballs (about 24)
- Heat coconut oil in skillet and fry meatballs (good luck resisting the urge to eat them)
- Place meatballs in baking pan, add chopped tomatoes and drizzle with truffle oil
- Bake at 375 for 20 minutes
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
½ cup fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves (6 if you like it spicy)
salt and pepper to taste
Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor
When meatballs are cooked wait a few minutes, then mix them in a separate serving dish with the sauce (no need to cook, this is a raw sauce). If you’re hosting a gathering for not-so-adventurous guests you can also serve the sauce on the side. Either way, I have yet to meet a respectable meat lover who after trying this dish once does not request the recipe.
Buen provecho and welcome to the joy of improv cooking, I’m glad you’re here!