Saturday, November 16, 2013

Best Street Food

Executive summary by darmansjah

The World’s Best Street Food: where to find it and how to make it

To discover the true soul of a city, take to its streets. To discover its heart, eat its food. And for gourmet nomads who eschew long-drawn meals in stuffy restaurants, this usually means the nondescript cars and stalls lining the roads and back alleys.

From fiery som tam in Bangkok to sweet masala chai in Mumbai, from chewy pretzels in New York to sugar-dusted churros in Madrid, the World’s Best Street Food is an ode to the tasty, the authentic and more often than not, the hole-in-the-wall culinary offerings from city sidewalks, tasted and shared by Lonely Planet’s Pool of well-travelled correspondents.

While nothing beats crunching into freshly made tacos or slurping up a bowl of piping hot pho prepared by seasoned hands, the recipes in here come a close second to having the world on your plate. Dishes run the gamut from familiar Asian favourites such as Hainanese chicken rice and murtabak to lesser-known ones such as Hungarian langos and Israeli sabih. The recipes are generally easy to replicate, but be prepared to sacrifice points for authenticity, as some require region-specific ingredients that you’re unlikely to find at your local market.

Also, be prepared for hits and misses when trying out the dishes. Although a cinch to prepare and reminiscent of those served up by street hawkers, the pad kraprow moo, a Thai stir-fry with minced pork, basil and chillies, turned out extremely salty.

On the brighter side, the ingenuity of the recipe for Taiwanese stinky tofu was much welcomed. A home-friendly version is made by steeping tofu in kimchi brine for 48 hours to lightly ferment it. The stink factor was nowhere near the original, but the crisp, salty tofu pieces made for an extremely moresih snack

When it comes to making the most of this book, you’ll do well to take it as a handy reference for planning street food itineraries, and to use the recipes only as a guide. Feel free to tweak them to suit your preferences and what you have in your pantry. The food might not be as authentic, but at least  it will suit your taste buds.

As Tom Parker Bowles rightly puts in the foreword:  You get to see far more of an alien culture from behind glowing charcoal or a wok than through any number of guidebooks.” But if you’re hankering for a taste, that one bite to keep you going until you next hop on the plane or train, start reading, get cooking and happy eating.

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