September 8, 2014
rouleau de fromage
(cheese roll)
The modern concept of east‑west cooking, later supplanted by fusion cooking, has been around at least since the 1970s. In one sense, it has been around forever. When an ethnic group migrates to a new area, they tend to adapt their cooking methods and recipes to locally available ingredients. The result is a fusion of sorts. Ask anyone who has eaten “Chinese” food around the world. Everywhere you go, it’s different. It may be because China is a large country with many culinary traditions resulting in one immigrant group producing food different than another, but even members of the same group will produce different food for the diverse tastes and habits of those in dissimilar locales.
For me, in 1991 I abruptly switched from Chinese food dominating my cooking to Japanese food being dominant. Then in the period from late 1994 until early 1997, I transitioned to French cooking. Now I mostly just cook. Much of what I do cook, especially for my everyday meals, is an amalgamation of the ingredients and techniques of the principle cuisines I’ve learned.
This amuse‑bouche is also an amalgamation of ingredients from many places with techniques I learned mostly in France. The nori was produced in Taiwan. The tobiko was harvested in Canada. The sun‑dried tomatoes came from Italy. The ancho chili powder came from Mexico. The salt was harvested in Brazil. The Philadelphia‑style cream cheese is all American.
1 sheet
100 g (312 oz)
Philadelphia‑style cream cheese at room temperature
40 g (138 oz)
sun‑dried tomatoes packed in oil, well‑drained, diced
15 g (1T)
wasabi tobiko (green‑colored flying fish roe)
23 t
ancho chili powder
to taste
fine salt
1. Place all the filling ingredients in a bowl except for the nori. Combine the mixture with a rubber spatula until smooth and evenly colored. Transfer the mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a plain, 1‑cm (38‑in) tip.
2. Lay the nori on a flat work surface so that one of the long edges is closest to you. Pipe a single row of the cheese mixture along the long edge. Carefully roll the nori and cheese mixture so it is tightly wrapped with just a single layer of nori. Using a very sharp knife, cut the remaining nori so the roll has no more than 1 cm (38 in) of overlap. Wet the flap with a little water and seal the roll.
3. Repeat the above step to produce a second roll.
4. Chill the cheese rolls in your refrigerator until firm.
5. Using a very sharp, thin knife and a long slicing motion, cut each roll into 5‑cm (2‑in) long pieces.
6. Serve chilled.
Yield: 10 pieces.

© 2014 Peter Hertzmann. All rights reserved.