8 Delicious Street Foods From Around The World That You Can Make At Home

There is a certain beauty to street food: it’s simple and with one bite you have a true taste of the local culture. Some people even pick their destination based on how much street food they can get. But exotic street food doesn’t have to be restricted to the alleyways you found it in. With a little creativity and daring in the kitchen, you can turn your own dinner table into the best foreign street food stand around. Just make sure you get a stray cat or dog to sit next to it for the sake of ambience.

Bánh xèo
Bahn Xeo has always been a personal favorite of mine. The savory rice crepe, traditionally filled with shrimp and bean sprouts, is a common staple on Vietnamese menus, and despite its complex taste you can actually make your own in about half an hour. What’s key in this recipe is the mint and nuoc chom Vietnamese dipping sauce. Try this recipe from Closet Cooking.

Parisian Crepes
For a food lover, the ultimate question when roaming the streets of Paris is often: sweet or savory? It’s difficult to choose between a good crepe filled with cheese or one with gooey Nutella… or one with sugar and lemon… or one with gruyere and mushrooms. You get the picture. Look no further than the Parisian pastry master and food blogger David Leibovitz for this basic buckwheat crepe recipe, perfect for the savory versions.

Fish Tacos
Feet in the warm sand, a cold cerveza in your hand and a couple of fish tacos from the dilapidated stand at the edge of the beach. Life doesn’t get better than that. But for those times when you can’t hop on a plane to Baja, a super easy solution to making fish tacos is to coat pieces of fish in cornmeal. When you pan fry in a little bit of vegetable oil, the fish gets a nice crunchy flavor. The top with all the good seasonings: cilantro, red cabbage, pineapple, guacamole… whatever you have on hand. Foodista has this good basic recipe, which includes a spicy jalapeno mayonnaise.

A good satay, like the kind you’ll find in Malaysia or Thailand, complete with the perfect dipping sauce, is all about the marinade, which means taking the time to let the meat marinate. Of course having a barbecue will do wonders, but you can also make them with the use of a grill pan on your stovetop. Satay skewers are the perfect thing for an appetizer or dinner parties where you have to serve a lot of people. Start with this Malaysian recipe from Just As Delish.

I have a friend that brought this Mexican grilled corn to numerous dinner parties last summer, and it was always a hit. The trick is in its simplicity – it really is just grilled corn with a few additions – making it just what a street food should be. Warm and messy, it’s the kind of dish where you’ll definitely want some napkins. Try this easy recipe from Food Blogga.

A common street food in Afghanistan, bolani is somewhere in between a calzone, a handpie and a quesadilla. In other words: fried, doughy goodness. The key in good bolani is in the filling. Go with a potato or pumpkin base and make sure to employ plenty of leeks and cilantro. If you are short on time, you can use tortillas instead of making your own dough, like Humaira at Afghan Cooking does, but if you’re up to it, it’s worth it to make your own. Conflict Kitchen from Pennsylvania has a solid one, although you may need to cut it in half depending on how many people you are serving.

Vietnamese Iced Coffee
I got used saying ca-phe sua dua (phonetic spelling of course) when I spent time in Vietnam a few years ago; there was no getting through a hot day in Saigon without one. You can of course get really complex with your coffee brewing and invest in a Phin, the filter that Vietnamese coffee is brewed in, or you can just use a good cold brew (let a French press stand over night) or some strong stovetop espresso, then just add sweetened condensed milk and ice cubes.

A sunny afternoon in Nice, France calls for a batch of socca. The gluten-free crepe made from chickpea flour is good on its own, or you can get creative with what you serve with it. Goat cheese and olives anyone? Drizzle with olive oil, serve with a good rose and it’s almost like you are on the Cote D’Azur. Try this recipe from The Kitchn.

[Photo Credits: MyDays, Charles Haynes, Serge Melki, abrowncoat, iPyo, sarihuella, Anna Brones, toehk, Tran’s World Productions]

Eating On The Road: What Kind Of Travel Eater Are You?

Like getting there, where to stay and what to see, eating on the road is one of the requirements of traveling. Some travelers like to plan every part of a trip and can’t leave home without those plans solid and confirmed. Others lean to a more nomadic flavor, taking in what they want when they want to.

But everyone has to eat.

How we go about that seems to vary from one person to another, with some commonalities among like-minded travelers.

Here are six different types of travel eaters. There may be more.

Live off the land-
Here are the true adventure travelers who find, or catch, then cook what they eat.

They are most commonly found camping or fishing, but can also be paranoid that America will be collapsing soon and they may have no other choice.

SecretsOfSurvival.com is more geared toward the United States being invaded by Communists but offers tips on hunting, fishing, trapping, edible insects and the like.

Local Flavor-
A personal favorite, just walking around any destination usually ends up at a sidewalk cafe or bar, drinking in the surroundings. In Italy recently, we found a nice cafe off a main street that worked quite nicely for this.

These days, local flavor can be as close as the waiting areas of an airport too. “More local restaurants and chefs are opening airport locations to bring regional favorites to travelers,” says Christine Sarkis from SmarterTravel, who enjoys regional cuisine and off-the-beaten-path destinations.Chain Eaters
Cruise ship travelers fall into this category quite a bit. On a cruise ship for a week or longer, gourmet cuisine begins to taste the same and can leave cruise travelers yearning for something else.

Not long ago, I was on a 10-day cruise. On about day eight we called on the island of St Lucia, stopping at a park by the shore, but far from the nearest city. I chose to stay at the park that day but others went into town. They came back rather quickly; because it was a holiday almost everything was closed in town, except the Burger King. Within about 5 minutes, the one cab operating that day had eight of us in it all headed to Burger King.

App Freaks
This bunch needs a bit of help navigating a destination new to them, so they turn to technology for the answer.

As I write this, there are 268 “food apps” available at the Apple store for my iPhone, many of which I have tried. They range from a cluster of tracker apps that count calories and nutrients with names like FoodNazi and IntakeNag to BiteHunter 2.0. Some let users search, browse and purchase dining deals, specials and information directly from their iPhone.

Home Cooking or Bust-
These would be the same people who are into bed and breakfasts or hostels, where food is made with hands – their hands. Some can do restaurant food too; others want only home cooking and, for them, nothing is better than an imperfect biscuit, cake or cookie.

Along these lines, staying and working on a farm is an option, of which Chicago Tribune says, “The best of both worlds comes together in farm stays. You get to live on a working farm for a few days – work on the farm, eat the organic farm food and sleep in a cozy farm cabin.”

This bunch likes to plan everything and has good results in the process that work for them. That focus can end up in one of the healthiest ways to travel.

A recent USAToday report suggests packing our own meal before a flight, which makes a whole lot of sense if we can do it. Drinking plenty of fluids, stocking hotel rooms with healthy snacks and not skipping breakfast are other tricks that planners like to use too.

At the end of our travels though, we got there, stayed there, did what we wanted/had to do, and came back. Along the way we ate.

So, what kind of travel eater are you? Not sure? Italian philosophy student Costanza Saglio from TheTravelEater might have some ideas and inspiration.

[Photo: Chris Owen]

Food & Wine Classic at Aspen celebrates 30 years, tickets going fast

Who would have guessed that 30 years ago, a high-altitude, fancy-pants gathering of some chefs, winemakers, and hungry and thirsty revelers would have evolved into the nation’s preeminent food and wine festival?

This year, from June 15-17th, Food & Wine magazine will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the legendary Food & Wine Classic at Aspen. Join the nation’s top chefs including Jacques Pépin, Mario Batali, Ming Tsai, Michael Symon, and Tom Colicchio, as well as internationally renowned winemakers, master sommeliers, brewmasters, and mixologists at the most anticipated and prestigious culinary event of the year.

The three-day weekend also features over 80 cooking demos, wine and interactive seminars, panel discussions, tasting events, and classes on food and wine pairing, as well as a bacchanalia involving 300 winemakers, craft brewers, distillers, and food purveyors in the Grand Tasting Pavilion. This year, new seminars and demos include “Game on!” with Andrew Zimmern; Ming Tsai’s “Asian BBQ;” “Undiscovered Grapes of Spain” by Steve “Wine Geek” Olson; “Fried Chicken for the Soul” by Marcus Samuelsson, and “Swill for the Grill” by uber-restaurateur Danny Meyer.

Special anniversary events are also on the menu, including a hands-on knife skills seminar, “Butchering for Beginners,” by acclaimed chef John Besh, a 5K charity run, an anniversary party, and a late-night dessert bash (Fact: your metabolism actually speeds up at 8,000 feet!). Additional special events will be announced over the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen Facebook page over the next few months. Psst…tickets are selling fast, so hop to it.

Tickets are $1,125 before March 15, 2012 and $1,225 thereafter. Food & Wine donates two percent of the net proceeds from all tickets sold to Grow for Good, a national initiative dedicated to supporting local farms and encouraging sustainable agriculture. To purchase tickets, click here.

Need an affordable place to stay after splurging on said tickets? Here’s an insider tip.


Sushi Wars

The question arises with more and more frequency these days: To sushi or not to sushi?

There is a growing contingent of conscientious mariners and travelers out there who refuse to eat all seafood, arguing that sea life has been so injudiciously hammered in the past five decades that if it’s going to survive we need to give it a true break. That path, of course, puts at risk the livelihoods of 30 million-plus global fishermen and the related industry they support.

Others, attempting to choose wisely, attempt to navigate by choosing so-called sustainable seafood, which leads away from the big-name predators (tuna, salmon, swordfish, mahi-mahi) towards smaller, less-popular thus still prolific species.

But in the booming sushi trade, opting for that admittedly delicious tuna and other at-risk fish can prompt lively pre-dinner brawls, even among the most enlightened carrying smart phones armed with apps to help steer them towards the “safest” fish on the menu.

With bluefin season heating up in the Mediterranean the question is ever more relevant. Several weeks ago Sea Shepherd’s “Operation Blue Rage” sent two of its boats, the Steve Irwin and Brigitte Bardot, to the coast of Libya to help monitor and take direct action if it observes illegal tuna-ing.”Any tuna fishing vessel we find off the Libyan coast will be operating illegally,” said Sea Shepherd’s boss Paul Watson as his boats steamed away from the coast of France toward Libya. “We will cut their nets, free the fish and document and report their operations to ICCAT and the European Union.”

A decade ago it became clear that bluefin would soon be extinct if the hunting continued apace and little has been done to slow the take, even as the popularity of the species booms in sushi restaurants around the globe, from Stillwater to Moscow (and particularly in Japan, which is said to consume 80 percent of the planet’s bluefin). Some marine protectors stick with the prediction that bluefin will be commercially unavailable by 2012 … next year!

A small and hopefully growing number of chefs and restaurants have taken bluefin off the menus. At the same time necessary further protection for the species continues to erode. In May, the Obama administration refused to list it as endangered, which conservationists were calling for; late last year European quotas for tuna were reduced, though by just a few tons, even as worries that any decrease in legal takings would result in a rise in illegal fishing.

NYT food critic Sam Sifton got into the middle of the debate a couple days ago when reviewing the NYC restaurant Masa Masa, which he admits serves “an enormous amount” of bluefin, and of which he admitted to happily sampling during several visits.

So back to the question, To sushi or not to sushi?

Casson Trenor’s book (Sustainable Sushi: A Guide to Saving the Oceans One Bite at a Time) and website may be the best place to start building your argument. He operates San Francisco’s only sustainable sushi restaurant, Tataki, and recently hosted a sustainable seafood feast at the National Geographic Society in D.C.

On his recent birthday (32) he blogged: “I talk a lot about moderation on this blog – staying away from critically endangered delicacies like bluefin tuna, not eating sushi four times a week, and all that – and I stand by it. But there’s a time and a place for celebration, and that’s important too. Not that I would eat bluefin tuna even for a holiday banquet, but I just might gorge myself a little bit (or a lot) on some sort of sustainable delight and fall asleep on the couch. My birthday is not a good day to be a crawfish, believe me.”
I think what we’re seeing is the emergence of a list of “good sushi” and “bad sushi.” Or should we simply put it all off limits … for now? Where do you fall?

Sifton’s review elicited a slew of responses. A majority but not all sided with the fish. Others suggest if you don’t like what’s on the menu, vote by not walking through the door. Have a look for yourself and weigh in here at Gadling.

[Flickr image via Bill Hails]

Photo of the day – Walk this way in Malaysia


Photo of the Day is from Malacca, Malaysia, a nice slice-of-life from Flickr user Don Wright of a local family out on a walk. We’re intrigued right now with Malacca after following the tweets and dispatches of the bloggers at Eating Asia, who are currently eating their way through Malacca. Malaysia is becoming increasingly well-known as a culinary hotspot and with colorful lakma, homemade fruit tarts, and lots of fresh seafood to eat still at bargain prices, it’s sure to become more popular with foodie travelers. Perhaps the little girl above is pointing the way to the next hot restaurant.

Taken any trips to up-and-coming destinations? Share them with us by adding them to the Gadling Flickr pool and we may choose it for a future Photo of the Day.