Bursting with flavour, inexpensive and easy to eat, street foods from all over the world are appearing on smart restaurant menus. Opening up the global divide, forward-thinking chefs are now willing to introduce their customers to food experiences that they might not ever know.
For adventurous travellers, there is something intriguing about trying different foods outside their familiar comfort realm, but street food can be a step too far for the cautious. However, for those willing to step into the unknown, street food is the real deal; authentic cuisine that is flavourful, economical, quick, and just what today’s diners want: the preparation is fast and simple, requires no-frills presentation, and usually doesn’t need a knife and fork.
Many chefs’ street-food offerings include both authentic and reinterpreted dishes. Chinese specialties to look out for include traditional dim sum, such as pork buns and dumplings, but there are also some clever fusions of Western and Eastern fast foods being developed. Chinese Bacon is cured pork belly flavoured with Chinese five-spice powder, salt and brown sugar, that is smoked and served grilled, glazed, and wrapped in lettuce leaves. Or for breakfast Hong Kong style, Stir-Fried Egg is an omelette-like starter with lap cheong, a dried pork sausage.
Middle Eastern staples, like falafel and pitta bread, will become passé. Middle Eastern pizza, made of flatbread topped with ground lamb flavoured with cumin, coriander and garlic, will now feature alongside bourekas, Israeli savoury puff pastries, lamb kofta burgers and roasted-eggplant salsa. Latin-inspired menu choices will range from tamales to pupusas (Salvadoran stuffed corn cakes), and Venezuelan La Pabellón (shredded beef, black beans, queso fresco and sweet plantains) tucked inside arepas, a corn flour pancake.
Mediterranean foods will feature French, Italian and North-African influences from the South of France. Chickpea-flour crêpes, know as socca, are eaten in Nice or Liguria, and are traditionally served sprinkled with olive oil or black pepper. A North African stew called harira, is made with chickpeas, lentils, rice and spices. Lasagne becomes Lasagne Fritti, a fried version of an old favourite, made with ricotta, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, as eaten on the streets of Italy’s Veneto region.
Image: Street Food by Tom Kime. Australian author and chef Tom Kime of Fish & Co The Sustainable Seafood Cafe, guides you through the culinary traditions and techniques of street food, with fast recipes and step-by-step instructions.
Log on to www.fishandco.com.au to read more about Tom Kime, his food, and books.