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]

Round-the-world: Why Melbourne is the best city in the world, part two

There are lots of other arguments for Melbourne as the world’s best city: museums, parks, open spaces; good bookstores. Add all these things to the list I began on Sunday, and soon these posts on Melbourne will begin to look like explicit promotional material. As much as I dig the city, this is certainly not my intention. So let me acknowledge that there are downsides to Melbourne. There is a tendency among Melburnians to undervalue their city and, more disturbingly altogether, there is an unhealthy obsession with Australian rules football, a completely inexplicable sport. So there you have it. Not perfect at all.

Missing from my list on Sunday is one of Melbourne’s signature strengths, namely, its culinary scene. Melbourne is a remarkable place to eat at both ends of the budget scale. And while it may not be a cheap place to dine by US big city standards, it is far more wallet-friendly than Sydney.

I’d eaten very well in Melbourne on my last visit, and I made sure to do some pre-visit research. I emailed Melbourne-based chef Tony Tan for restaurant suggestions, and he responded quickly. Many of Tony’s tipped restaurants are pretty high-end: Cumulus Inc, Attica, Cutler & Co., Vue de Monde, among others.

We ended up sampling a few top restaurants: The Press Club, Cutler & Co, and Bistro Vue.

The Press Club’s “symposium degustation” menu is quite strong. Highlights include the starting snack of cold seafood skewers and an incredible rose-focused dessert course (titled “Aphrodite”) with berries, rose petals, and a fragrance component. This was a very good meal in a buzzing location with delightful servers.

At Cutler & Co, the degustation menu is even more extraordinary. Every course is deeply satisfying, though if I had to point to a single favorite course I’d name the crab, abalone and sweet corn soup. The palate-cleansing course of carrot granita includes puffed rice and sheep’s milk yogurt. It is like a heady, deeply considered breakfast. Dessert stars violet ice cream and provides a very pleasant shock to the senses. This meal is seriously amazing, studiously well-considered. It is, all things considered, a decidedly intellectual meal, though it is also fun and spirited.

Our third high-end meal is at Bistro Vue, an offshoot of the popular Vue de Monde. I eat oysters, house-smoked salmon with toast, and the day’s special, a hearty, rustic Toulouse-style cassoulet. It’s solid all the way through. The crowd is very upscale and very well-dressed, which that makes me regret momentarily my choice to wear my New Balances to dinner.

On the cheap side we are also completely pleased. We take advantage of the local Asian cuisine scene. Wandering around Footscray in the late morning, we spot a Vietnamese restaurant, Hung Vuong Saigon, packed at noon. We decided on the spot to eat an early lunch. The clientele is mostly Vietnamese. The offerings (vermicelli noodles for me and pho for Matt) are amazing.

We also visit Victoria Street in Richmond, a strip packed with Asian restaurants, and have a decidedly mediocre Thai meal. We have better luck in search of laksa, which has become a major local food favorite in Melbourne. We have ours at Chinta Blues in St. Kilda. It is delicious, though I note with a mixture of excitement and disappointment that some of Melbourne’s top laksa lists exclude it. Check out the entertaining delaksa for reviews of laksa at restaurants in Victoria, elsewhere in Australia, and beyond.

Tourism Victoria provided media support in the form of three meals in Melbourne. All opinions expressed are my own.

Check out other posts in the round-the-world Capricorn Route series here.