Authentic flavours in fusion dish

ASIAN influences on our cuisine have been present since the gold rush days when Chinese immigrants arrived hoping to dig up a fortune in the 1800s.

When I was a kid it was difficult to pass through even the smallest country town that didn't boast a Chinese cafe or restaurant.

The cuisine adapted to the undeveloped palates of Australians and dishes appeared on the menus of these establishments that would never be found in the country whence the cooks came.

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Chop suey is a prime example, and the ubiquitous sweet and sour everything is another.

Lately more authentic flavours have emerged, although the little country Chinese eateries still exist and flourish.

It's now common to find "fusion" dishes that rely heavily on the ingredients of ancient cultures such as Cantonese (the most common style of Chinese/Australian cuisine) but presented in a new way that embraces both countries.

Today's recipe, char siu (barbecued) lamb or pork with a salad of grapefruit and salad leaves combines lip-smacking aromatic grilled meat with a palate-cleansing combination of tart and bitter flavours that cut through the sticky sweetness of the marinade.

A word of warning; the sugar in the marinade will cause the meat to scorch as it caramelises.

This is the desired process, but this is not a dish you can leave on the grill while you prepare the rest of the meal.

There's a fine line between caramelised and cremated, and you don't want to cross it.

Aim for meat that is still pink inside (even if you use pork rather than lamb - it's safe to serve pork these days that's not overcooked) and a little scorched around the edges.

Assemble the salad beforehand, or while the meat is resting.

All ingredients are easily available; you may need to go to a specialist Asian grocers such as Red Ginger for the wine, but you can substitute dry sherry.

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