5 mins

4 ways to knock-up street food

Who said you needed to travel to the back streets of Hanoi or Marrakech to discover real street food? Make your own with these top four recipes

who said you couldn't know-up a bit of street food in your own kitchen? (iStock)

Forget trotting off to the street stalls in New Delhi or off to the exotic food markets in the Middle East. Take a look at these top four recipes, taken from Street Food Revolution for some foodie inspiration.

1. Bánh Mì 11’s Imperial BBQ Pork

Bánh Mì 11’s Imperial BBQ Pork takes inspiration from the charcoal-grilled pork that is served with rice vermicelli and fresh herbs (bun’ cha) on the streets of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, but they make it more exciting by adding in the flavours of a marinade. The meat has a sweet taste from being caramelised but there’s also a hint of shallots and spring onions.

Serve hot off the barbecue in a lightly toasted baguette, with carrot, mooli, cucumber and fresh coriander, for a sumptuous daytime snack.

Serves: 1

4 tbsp granulated white sugar
100ml hot water
600g pork shoulder, thinly sliced
2 shallots, finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, minced (optional)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp pepper
Fresh French baguette
Pâté de campagne
1/2 cucumber, sliced into thin slivers
A few sprigs of coriander
Chopped hot chilli, to taste

Heat up a heavy-bottomed saucepan and ensure there’s no water residue in it before you pour in the sugar. Stir the sugar in a circular motion, using a wooden spoon. When the sugar has turned a light brown colour, carefully pour in the hot water and cook on the stove for just 20 seconds. The key is to be swift here and err on the lightly brown side, as the sugar burns quickly and could build up enough smoke in minutes to set off your fire alarm.

In a bowl, combine the pork, shallots, spring onions, lemongrass (if using), garlic, fish sauce, salt and pepper; finally pour in the caramel sauce. Mix well and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes to marinate.

When you are almost ready to cook, thread the pork onto bamboo skewers and put on the barbecue (or under a grill), ideally a charcoal one to give the meat a subtle, smoky aroma. Lightly toast the baguette on the barbecue (or, again, under a grill) and then halve lengthways and spread the lower half with a thin layer of mayonnaise and pâté. Remove the grilled pork from the bamboo skewers onto the baguettes and add cucumber, coriander and some fresh chilli (if you dare). Cover with the top baguette half and you are ready to enjoy your bánh mì!

2. Falafel

Key falafel fact: they are cooked by being fried – not boiled and then fried. If you try the latter, they will explode. Not good in a street food situation. Useful equipment here is a food processor; a deep fryer or a large wok; a falafel tool (aala falafel in Arabic) and a fryer thermometer.

Makes: about 20

500g dried pulses made up of 175g chickpeas and 325g ful – skinned and dried broad beans, available in Turkish and Middle Eastern shops (one brand to look for is Ladin)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
White part of 1 small leek, finely chopped
1–1 1/2 Scotch bonnet chillies, finely chopped
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley or coriander or a mixture of the two, chopped
6g white pepper
6g ground coriander
4g ground black pepper
4g ground cumin
Salt, to taste
Oil, for deep-frying (preferably groundnut or peanut)
50g sesame seeds (optional)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Chickpea flour (besan)

Soak the chickpeas and beans for 24 hours in a large bowl of cold water. Next day, drain them and grind them up with the vegetables, herbs, spices and salt in a food processor. You will find you have to keep scraping the sides and returning the paste for successive grinding to get it sufficiently finely chopped.

Heat the oil for deep-frying to 180ºC. Stir the falafel mix in a bowl with the sesame seeds (if using) and the bicarbonate of soda.

This recipe has quite a high proportion of vegetables to beans and chickpeas. This is tasty but creates a risk: the danger is that the mixture will be too wet and need drying out in order to make a falafel ball that will hold together. This can be done by adding chickpea flour. If you start with a higher proportion of pulses – especially the broad beans, which are mushier than the chickpeas – you may well want to add water before frying to get the right consistency. When it’s right it is like moderately firm mashed potato, or like saturated sand on a beach near the waterline.

Form walnut-sized balls of falafel in your hands and lower them into the fryer or wok with a slotted spoon.Carry on until the fryer or wok is full of falafel. They will rise to the surface and the bicarbonate of soda will make them puff up. Turn them with the slotted spoon and remove when golden brown; drain on kitchen paper. Eat hot, or at least warm with hummus, baba ghanoush and tabbouleh.

3. Aubergine Burger

Like a thick portabella mushroom, there’s something very substantial about an aubergine. ‘It has a meaty, smoky flavour’ says Chris, ‘and is able to withstand other flavour combinations – without being overpowered’.

Serves: 1

6 slices of aubergine
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 onion, sliced
1 large burger bun
1 slice of goat’s cheese
6 sun-blushed tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato relish
2 slices of tomato
Handful of rocket leaves, washed

Preheat a chargrill pan. Lightly brush the aubergine slices with olive oil. Season, then chargrill for 1–2 minutes on each side. Set to one side.

Meanwhile, fry the onion in the remaining olive oil.Toast the burger bun lightly, then place the aubergine on the base, followed by the fried onion, then the goat’s cheese, followed by the sun-blushed tomatoes and tomato relish, tomatoes and rocket leaves. Top with the burger bun lid and enjoy.

4. Hi-energy Super Dark Venezuelan Truffles

Petra got this recipe from Willie Harcourt-Cooze in 2006 and has been using it ever since. Before Willie got his factory together and was still importing direct from Venezuela, the delivery service was much more informal...

"I remember him sending chocolate round by taxi in Prada shoe boxes," says Petra. "I call these truffles hi-energy because these truffles really give you a lift – even without the alcohol. It’s to do with the cacao we use and it not having had the life-blood sucked out of it by endless refining. This means more of the earth-bound goodness and transcendental cacao boost."

Petra’s addition is whatever good booze she has at the time. Oloroso sherry works really well, as does a nice Martinique rum.

Makes: about 40

1 x 180g bar Willie’s Cacao (available at Waitrose, Selfridges or Choc Star) – the Venezuelan Black is Petra’s favourite
150g light brown sugar
300ml double cream
A good slug of alcohol (see recipe introduction)
Cocoa powder, for coating

Chop up the chocolate or power-grate in a food processor. Heat the sugar and the cream together until almost boiling; don’t allow it to boil. Set aside for a few moments so that it cools from hot to warm. Too hot and the whole lot will split and need to be resuscitated with more cream, which will dilute the power.

Add the booze and stir through. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until it has all melted. This should result in a lovely, glossy, thick chocolate ganache. Next pour into a clingfilm-lined plastic container, pop a lid on and stick it in the fridge for a good few hours (or overnight).

Remove the set chocolate slab from the fridge, cut it into 40 cubes and form into shapes (I like to keep these pretty rustic – got a slight horror of rolling into balls). Toss in a bowl of cocoa powder and serve.

Store in the fridge, but eat at room temperature. The truffles are much more yielding and eye-rolling that way.

All four recipes have been taken from Richard Johnson's Street Food Revolution. A book showcasing the 'real food heroes' of Britain – those who work their own street food businesses here, in the UK. 

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