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street food

The Streets of Asia Fish Curry

The Streets of Asia Fish Curry

There is something about fish curry that is reminiscent of grassroots cuisine. Hailing from a coastal city in South of India, fish was not only common but the most affordable 'meat' as well. Even though it was a teeming metropolis, that even 15 years ago, exported much of its best catch from the sea, there was abundance enough to share with the domestic consumers.

Even today, fish sellers walk the streets in the city with the morning catch. Sometimes, walking through lesser affluent areas in the evening, you can see fish languishing on wooden boards, not iced, yet looking remarkably sprightly- the benefit of not being processed through multiple temperature zones. Flash freezing is a good compromise but nothing beats simply fresh. Tropical waters are indeed blessed with a variety that can only be dreamt about sitting in the North East with its Arctic currants. I haven't been to a fish market in India in 12 years but one day I hope to go back to those markets and take photos. Who knows? It may not be the same anymore and just be a glass and steel structure but somehow I doubt it. Fishing is too much of an economic activity for the poor to be that.

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From Florence!!! Panino al Lampredotto by Juls

Juls.... She is a girl after my own heart!! We met about a year ago through the happy media of twitter and blogosphere. I was amazed about how many common interests and likes we had and our shared outlook on so many things in life.. She is like a sister I was meant to have!! Siblings to grow up, share, tease and enjoy together!!

Only she is from gorgeous Tuscany, a place I yearn to spend sometime in, sit back, relax and catch up with Juls.. But I am glad I will be atleast seeing her soon, in her backyard or in just Europe's backyard! ;-)

Since we met, we have collaborated on a few projects together like the Christmas issue of
G2Kitchen. It's always been fun to work with her enthusiastic energy spurring you on. Her blog, Jul's Kitchen, is a reflection of that same energy and her charming personality with recipes of the home and heart, lovely photographs and straight from the heart posts :)

So, without further ado, please travel with me to the gorgeous streets of Florence.... :)

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panino al lampredotto


After more than a year of Twitter, Facebook and obviously blog friendship, finally this Autumn I'll meet Asha during her holidays in Europe: yet to decide when and where exactly, but since we'll be sharing the same continent for a while, we'll definitely have the chance to meet. I'm so excited, because it will be like meeting an old friend, but for the first time!

I'm proud to be in such a great company to celebrate Asha's blog anniversary, three years of mouthwatering recipes, vivid photos and - more important - three years of honest and contagious love for food. I asked Asha to contribute to her street food series with one of our typical street food, the Florentine Panino al Lampredotto.
panino al lampredotto 2


Soon it will be summer again, and maybe we’ll be tempted to go to Florence to have a walk in the centre, looking at the fascinating high couture shop windows or simply strolling lazily along tiny back lanes, amazed by the sudden view of the Dome you discover behind every corner. You can decide to get lost into Florence neighborhoods, little towns with their own personality enclosed into the bigger city, each area with its market and its typical shops.

This is the right time to mingle with the Florentines and eat one of the most famous street food in town: panino al lampredotto. Lampredotto is a kind of tripe, darker with a more intense taste, it's the fourth and leanest part of a cow stomach. I know.. I know... maybe I've lost you at the beginning: it's not easy to have someone eat offal, especially when this habit doesn't belong to their food and culture background. But Florentine people love the quinto quarto (literally the fifth quarter) the offal, the less noble part of an animal, as head, tail, stomach, heart...

Lampredotto is boiled in a broth and put in a sandwich with salsa verde (green sauce) or – more recently – with a spicy sauce. The bread used is the typical semelle (also known as semellino) and on request it can be soaked into the lampredotto broth. You can enjoy this unique street food in markets at the trippaio stall, queuing with the Florentines on their lunch break or with brave tourists who dare to try this panino. Give it a try and you'll discover a new, hearty and genuine flavour.
panino al lampredotto 3


I asked aunt Silvana for the recipe: years ago she was thinking about opening a trippaio stall at the market, so who better than aunt Silvana could give me the recipe?



Panino al Lampredotto

1 carrot
2 celery stalks
2 ripe tomatoes
1/2 red onion
coarse salt
500 g lampredotto

Ingredients to make Mum’s salasa verde (green sauce):
plenty of parsley
1 hardboiled egg
1 handful of pickled capers
2 slices of bread, soaked in water and white vinegar
1 clove of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
salt
pepper

Rinse the lampredotto under cold running water and place it in a pot filled up to 3/4of water with a carrot, the celery, the tomatoes, the onion and a handful of coarse salt. Bring to the boil and let it simmer on low heat for at least an hour.

Meanwhile make the salsa verde. Soak the bread in water and white vinegar, squeeze it well and crumble it with your hands. Chop the parsley with a knife along with the hardboiled egg, a clove of garlic, the capers and the crumbled bread. Put all the chopped ingredients in a bowl and pour in a generous dash of extra virgin olive oil, stir well and season with salt and pepper.

To make the panino, remove the lampredotto from the broth and slice it thinly. Open the panino and fill it with the lampredotto, season with plenty of salt and ground black pepper and a generous spoonful of salsa verde.

Pay attention while eating your panino: the green sauce and the olive oil will be dripping from all sides, but that’s the beauty of our panino al lampredotto!

Obviously lampredotto can also be eaten sitting at table in a proper dish, seasoned with salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil or with green sauce, enriched by some pickles.

"Street" Food Provençal - Pissaladiere by Helene Dujardin

Dear readers... Thank you so much for your warmth and all the wishes that you have been showering on me and my humble blog this past month and over the years. When I came up with the idea of the Street Food Series, I was indeed a bit selfish as I LOVE street food. But I am so thrilled to discover that this particular genre of food shares a soft spot in so many of your hearts as well!!!!

Today, I have a special treat. We are transported to one of my favorite cultures and a region that I fervently hope that I get an opportunity to live in and relish atleast for some time... FRANCE!!!!!! Vive le France.

Vous savez combien j'aime toutes les choses "Français ". J'essaie d'apprendre la langue, la culture et la cuisine autant que je peux. Aujourd'hui, je suis honoré que Hélène est écrit pour mon blog et elle partage avec nous, la recette de la Provençal Pissaladiere.

I (as many of you, as well) have been an admirer of Helene's work,
her photography and mouthwatering creations for sooo long!! Across this blog, you would and will see many mentions of her blog as inspirations, ideas and a massive source of learning!

When I finally met her this April at the Food Blog Conference, it was like meeting an idol, only she was sooo down to Earth, friendly, helpful, warm and approachable that I really was just in cloud #9 :-))). And, then her much looked-forward-to book,
Plate to Pixel, came out and once again I was awe-inspired... and the learning continues...

oui, bien sûr .. Je peux en dire plus .. beaucoup plus. Mais je vous laisse lire ses mots... :)
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Pissaladiere

Whether one has been blogging six days, six months or six years, blog anniversaries are a big deal. Lots of love, passion, dedication and bits of one self go into putting a post together. Whatever your purpose, whatever your goal, blogging is an intimate moment when you let someone onto a page you create.

When I met Asha last April during Food Blog Forum Orlando, it felt as if I were finally meeting a long distance friend although her pictures and words had been right at my fingertips for two years now. Asha is not shy, nor is she flamboyant. Asha has a craving for learning. And working. And constantly making her work better and more beautiful.




Helene & Asha


Asha's blog is now three years old... I did a double take when she told me. It has been a tremendous source of joy to read her posts over the last few years. I have loved and appreciated seeing both her writing and visual voices find their groove, tone, balance. What you see on Asha's blog is 100% honest and authentic. And beautiful.

To celebrate her two year blog anniversary, Asha came up with the idea to gather posts about street foods or easy to transport specialties from all over the world. Throughout the month of May, she had different bloggers write about and photograph their own street food cultures. I was extremely honored when she asked me to participate (pressure of not crashing a fun party..!) but I was a bit stumped at first.

With a culture of bistros, cafes and a love to sit down for a meal, I don't think France has a deep street food culture. It does to some extent have many "easy to transport" foods like roasted chestnuts and crepes or specialties like the famous "jambon - beurre" sandwich, friand au fromage or hot socca that one can easily grab at the corner deli or bakery.




Pissaladiere

When I asked my friend Fanny who is also from Provence about what would be considered street food for Provence, she enthusiastically answered "Socca!". To which I replied "Yeah...but that's Nice, that's your street food. I'm further North in Provence. We don't do socca much up there." That's when we both looked at each other knowing we had the perfect Provencal compromise and bursted "Pissaladiere!"

Pissaladiere, a specialty from my native Provence indeed falls right into the category of portable foods. Its thin pizza like yeasted crust is topped with a thick layer of caramelized onions, anchovies and olives. That's it. No sauce, no fancy ingredients. Yet, everytime I make it, we truly feel like kings with every bite melting in our mouths, revealing each time a new depth of flavor. That's one of the main aspects of Provencal cooking. Easy, clean flavors, fresh ingredients and lots of sharing with family and friends.

Back home we say that you can spot a good pissaladiere when the layer of onions is at least half thicker than the crust it is covering. Slice a lot of them! The process of cooking them down until caramelized can take some time (anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the size of your pan) but you can easily make the most our of your time by doing that while the dough is rising. I cook the onions with a mix of basil, thyme, rosemary and oregano as well as little secret ingredient I recently started to use in my Pissaladiere.




Pissaladiere

Indeed, over the years, the recipe has not varied much, except since last September when I started adding a little Pastis when the onions are just done cooking. I picked up that trick while shooting Holly Herrick's cookbook. She had a wonderful recipe for a fennel and onion tart with Pastis in it. It is a small deviation to the tradition that brings me even closer to home...

The ways to make Pissaladiere are as varies as the cooks and chefs who make it. Indeed, some will top the onions with anchovies while some incorporate some of them as the onions finish cooking. I am of the latter camp. It is the closest I got to the condiment pissalat (anchovy puree) that we use back home. Half the anchovies get mixed in, half gets scattered on top of the pissaladiere. That's my rule...ahaha!




Pissaladiere

I love how they create a soft and falvorful anchovy butter right there with the herbs and onions. I guarantee that if you have guests who are so-so about cured anchovies, the fact of melting about half in with the onions will mellow their taste and might make your guests fall in love anchovies after all!

Last come the olives. Some will say to use only tiny Nicoise olives, some swear by Kalamata, etc...I say, use the kind you love because it'll be the one you will enjoy eating the most on the tart. Personally, I like to use Italian cured olives. Good size, salty and mild at the same time so they don't clash with the rest of the ingredients.

Once everything comes together, you are close to digging in a slice of Provencal sunshine...Enjoy!

Pissaladiere


Note: All photographs are copyrighted to Helene Dujardin. Please contact her for use/license.



Pissaladiere:
Serves 4

Note: some recipes call for puff pastry instead of a yeast based crust. If you as my grandmother, she'd tell you it's pure heresy to use puff pastry here. See? Every cook has a different way to make it. Same for the toppings. Everytime my grandmother would read a pissaladiere recipe calling for capers, her blood would start boiling. But there are such recipes. The one below is the one I grew up eating. And well...!

Ingredients:
For the dough:
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal

For the topping:
1/4 cup olive oil
12 onions (I like Vidalias) peeled and very thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
2 sprigs each of thyme, basil, oregano, rosemary
1/4 cup Pastis
1/3 cup Italian olives, pitted
20-24 anchovy fillets

Directions:
Place the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Place in stand mixer fitted with the dough attachment. Add the oilve oil flour and salt in and start mixing on low speed. Add a little bit of water if you feel like the dough is still dry (should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead for several minutes until the dough is form but smooth with no visible cracks from lack of moisture. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel. Allow dough to rise in a warm, draft free spot for about 1 hour.

In the meantime prepare the topping:
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add onions and season with salt and pepper. Add the herbs and let the onions cook and caramelize for 45 minutes to an hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Add the pastis continue cooking until the moisture has evaporated, about 10 more minutes. Add about 12 anchovy fillets and cook an extra minute. Remove the herbs and set aside.

Preheat to 375°F. Roll the dough on a floured surface into a thin 10x15-inch rectangle. Transfer the dough to an inverted baking sheet dusted with cornmeal. Cover dough with a damp cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

When ready, spread the onion mixture on top. Add the olives and anchovies over the onions. Bake 15-20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Street Food Asia - Tang Yuan re-defined by Xiaolu

We are travelling further East today on the Street Food Series. I am especially thrilled to present this to you today because for one, it is by one of most talented people I have met and two, this dish is a beautiful fusion of two ancient cultures....

I have been reading Xiaolu's gorgeous blog, 6 Bittersweets, for a while now. Her beautiful styling and thoughtful recipes are always mesmerising. And, she is a student! How she finds time to do so much and balance a hectic student's life, I have no idea but I admire her even more for it!

She recently started a mini-business catering sweet bites to the DC area! I think it's super cool and awesome and wish her much success with it. Check out
all the great stuff that she can make for you!! DC isn't so far from me, so I do hope to meet her sometime...

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Black Sesame Sweet Rice Dumplings


Just as starting a food blog 2 years ago introduced me to friends around the globe, joining Twitter this year has enriched my life with even more incredibly talented, caring, and equally food-obsessed pals. Asha was one of the first among these new friends. Early on she reached out to me, impressing me with her warm and cheerful spirit, exciting recipes, and wonderful photography. When she then invited me to contribute to the celebration of her 3-year blog anniversary, of course I said yes right away!

Although the theme was Street Food, Asha was even kind enough to let me share a Chinese dessert that is traditionally a soup, but which I made more "street-savvy" by borrowing an idea from our Japanese neighbors. Thank you for the warm reception, Asha and all of you! Cheers to 3 wonderful years of Fork Spoon Knife and many many more to come!


Black Sesame Sweet Rice Dumplings -making


When Asha asked that I share a dessert reflecting my Chinese heritage, I immediately knew what I wanted to make: black sesame tang yuan, or sweet rice dumplings. Tang yuan (literally meaning "soup [with] round balls" is a treat that has great significance in Chinese culture as well as to me personally.

These dumplings are traditionally served during the winter solstice celebration, Chinese New Year, and even weddings. Usually eaten with one's family, the round shape of these dumplings are supposed to symbolize unity and harmony. As for me, I find tang yuan not only fun to eat but also love the rush of childhood memories that come with each chewy bite.

Tang yuan traditionally consists of filled or unfilled chewy sticky rice balls (similar to mochi) that are served in a sweet soup. Common fillings include sweet peanut paste, red bean paste, Chinese rock sugar, and black sesame paste. Diversity also exists among the sweet liquids in which the dumplings are served. These range from red bean soup to ginger syrup, black sesame porridge to sweet rice wine egg drop soup. With so many options to pick from, and that's not even counting new flavors you could make up, tang yuan never gets boring!


Black Sesame Sweet Rice Dumplings -inside


To add yet another option to the list, I've taken the yuan ("round balls") out of the tang "soup." Inspired by the Japanese street food, dango, I've put my favorite black sesame-filled tang yuan on skewers, grilled them, and glazed them in a fragrant ginger pandan osmanthus flower syrup. After all, isn't everything more fun to eat on a stick? Whether you prefer the soup or skewer option (I've included directions for both), I promise you're in for a real treat!



Black Sesame Sweet Rice Dumplings (芝蔴汤圆): Chinese Traditional or Japanese Dango-Style
Adapted from Rasa Malaysia and The Anime Blog
Makes 24 to 30 dumplings

XIAOLU'S NOTES: If not making Dango-style skewers, you should just use 12 oz. sticky rice flour and no plain rice flour, as is traditional for the Chinese dumplings. Osmanthus flowers can be found in Asian stores and fine tea shops. Don't overfill the dumplings or they will likely break open when cooking. The ginger syrup is optional if making the Chinese-style dumpling soup. If you don't want to make the syrup, simply serve the dumplings with a little of the water they are boiled in.

10 oz. glutinous rice (sticky rice) flour
2 oz. plain rice flour
270 ml hot water (1 cup PLUS 2 Tbsp water)
4 Tbsp black sesame seeds
4 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
8 to 10 wooden skewers, if making dango

Ginger Syrup (姜茶)
7 cups water [3 cups if making dango skewers]
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 oz. ginger (skin peeled and then lightly pounded with the flat side of a knife)
1 1/2 tsp dried osmanthus flowers (optional)
2 pandan leaves, tied into a knot (optional)




Lightly toast the black sesame seeds over medium fire until you smell the aroma of the black sesame seeds. Please take note that the sesame seeds will start popping when they are heated, so use your lid to cover. Don’t burn the black sesame seeds; transfer them out and let cool as soon as they smell aromatic.

Use a mini food processor or mortar and pestle to grind the black sesame seeds until they become fine. Transfer the ground black sesame into a wok, add sugar and butter and stir well to form a thick paste. If they are too dry, add more butter. Dish out and let cool in the fridge. (This will make the filling easier.)

In a big bowl, mix the rice flours with water until it forms a smooth paste and no longer sticks to your hands. Divide it equally into 24 to 30 balls (depends how you like the size, the bigger the size, the easier it is to do the filling). Flatten each ball in your palm, and then use a pair of chopsticks to pick up some black sesame paste and lay it in the middle of the flatten ball. Fold the edge to seal the dumpling. Lightly roll it into a ball shape using both palms, very gently and delicately. Set aside. [See this video for a visual of the wrapping process].

Prepare the ginger syrup by boiling the water. Add the ginger and screwpine/pandan leaves (optional) into the water and boil for 10-15 minutes with medium heat. Add sugar and sweet osmanthus and boil for another 5 minutes. Lower heat to simmer and reduce to about 4 cups of water. [Reduce to about 1 cup of syrup if making skewers.] Add more sugar to taste if you like. Strain syrup through a sieve to remove the ginger and pandan. Keep warm until needed.

Heat up another pot of boiling water. Drop the dumplings into the hot boiling water. As soon as they float to the top, use a slotted spoon to remove them to a bowl.

If serving these in the traditional Chinese style, divide dumplings among small bowls and pour in the ginger syrup. Serve immediately

If serving these in the Japanese style on skewers, cool the dumplings and then put them into the wooden skewers. (3-4 dumplings each stick.) Grill the skewered dumplings on a grill or a grill pan [I just used a frying pan], turning several times, until nice burn marks form over them. Place skewers on a wide plate and pour ginger syrup over them while still warm. Enjoy right away or at room temperature.

South indian "Street" Food - Sundal (Chickpea Salad)

Sundal


Apologies for the short interruption in scheduled programming. I had some time management issues. anyway sorted out now. :D.

So, I am back today with something that I grew up with on the coastal shores of South India! Sundal, is a savory snack that is very popular inside and outside the homes of Tamilians.

This is one dish that cannot be termed as just street food as it also shares the venerable place as "Prasad", something that is blessed by the gods and shared with friends and neighbours on good and festive occasions.

Sundal Packets


If you visit a Tamilian house on certain festivals, you are sure to be greeted with a bowl of this simple and flavorful salad. In temples, you get them served in little bowls made of dried beetel leaves or banana/palm leaves.

It is also one of the most popular snacks munched on while sitting on the cool sands of the beach in the evening watching the sea lapping at the shores. Growing up in Chennai, a coastal city, I loved going to the beach at dusk and listening to the waves hitting the coast.

I find the sea at night a beautiful place to be... putting your troubles in perspective, a asynchronous tones of the waves soothing your heart and soul and making you smile through anything... It's the best place to sit with a friend or loved one, chat or not, just spend time quietly.

Sundal 2


I distinctly remember, vendors selling Sundal to those sitting on the beach. They carry the sundal in iron buckets and a number of handmade paper cups to serve them in. They would cost 1 or 2 rupees (yes, that is ridiculously low converted to $) and even then we would haggle for to bring it down. LOL. But that's the thrill of it ;-)

That and cut raw mangoes.. Oh YUM!! :)



Sundal (South Indian Chickpea Salad)

Sundal

Prep Time: 3 hours to overnight
Cook Time: 15 min
Total Time: 20 min

1 cup dried chickpeas
2 tsp whole mustard seeds
7-8 fresh curry leaves
3-4 fresh green chillies, diced
3 T fine desicated coconut (or use unsweetened coconut)
water to cook the peas
salt, oil as needed

Soak the beans, in enough water and a little salt, overnight. Cook the beans in salted water in pan or in a pressure cooker (2-1/2 whistles) until just done. Drain and set aside. This can be made upto 2 days ahead.

In a shallow pan, saute a bit or oil (ghee is best!). When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and wait for them to pop. Add the curry leaves and chillies. As they start to crisp up, add the cooked beans. Toss and cook on low for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle the grated coconut and toss and cook for a few minutes. That's it. Serve! :)
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