Saturday, 23 January 2010

A new home for Street Foodie!

I might still be blowing in the wind after our Asian escapade, but at least Street Foodie's got a new home.

As of now I'm moving operations over to For reasons that will be obvious to anyone who's made the switch, I've opted for wordpress this time over blogger.

In line with the improved functionality, I hope to start posting recipes as well as (hopefully) soliciting a few contributions now and then.

Here's to a busy 2010!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Street Smarts

Whilst in Asia I realised I was developing a subconscious set of rules when it came to choosing the right street cart to eat at. These rules aren't absolute, and exceptions frequently occur, but so far they've done a decent job of keeping me on the straight and narrow.

First and foremost is local patronage. The number one indicator of good street food is the prescence of a long line of hungry locals. Many a time I've foregone the busier places out of self consciousness and regretted it. People tend to be pretty helpful, and I've usually found someone just within my preiphery vision to help me out when I get stuck.

I also tend to favour one dish operations over multi-food extravaganzas. If a stall is selling paejon, soondae, dukbokki and tempura, chances are that one (or all) of them will be below par. Time and again my favourite stalls have been those that specialise in one particular food item. These places often combine passion, expertise and attention to detail in a way that shows in the food.

There are of course exceptions, but I've found that the best street food stalls generally don't tout for business. If they look like they don't need nor want your money, you're probably on to a good thing. You're also less likely to get ripped off.

It seems obvious, but I try to avoid stack-em high joints in favour of somewhere that will cook to order. This is especially true of the Korean Tempura and Pajeon stalls, where sogginess tends to set in after a relatively short time. Even grandma's old socks taste good as long as they're straight off the hotplate!

Also, avoid vendors outside tourist attractions. In my experience, these places consistently turn out below average food at above average prices. They also tend to fall foul of at least one of the points above, meaning they should be doubly avoided.

Finally, the most important aspect in choosing somewhere to eat is to follow your gut. Never feel pressurized into ordering something until you properly suss it out. A place might satisfy all the positive criteria listed above but if it doesn't feel right, don't do it!

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Scooby Snack: Glasgow in a Bun

Named last year as one of Lonely Planet's top ten cities, Glasgow is arguably Scotland's biggest, fiercest, and most exciting city. Once considered the "second city of the British Empire," it's a town that has ricocheted between economic boom, decline, and back again - and still bears the scars to prove it. These days, although the city is enjoying increased tourism and growing global presence, Glasgow remains a working, drinking, fighting city. Somewhere that, as Gordon Ramsay observes, is "full of people with no other ambition but to live life."

The Scooby Snack is a proud part of this hard-living tradition. Available only from a handful of after-hours burger vans, this monument to meat and grease means business. It's not a novelty item or publicity stunt and you don't get a prize for eating it. It's simply over-indulgence in an casual, distinctly Glaswegian way.

I recently grabbed one from the Street Cafe burger van on Glasgow's Sauchiehall Street.

Fried egg, flat sausage, bacon, cheese, potato scone and a burger patty were served in a floury roll and sprayed with brown and red sauce (it's not for nothing that Glasgow is frequently cited as being among the most unhealthiest places in Europe.)

The result was a mammoth sandwich that was mostly quantity over quality. The burger was of the cheap, fast food variety that comes out of the box, the cheese was processed and the bacon pretty standard stuff. Where it did shine however was in the Lorne sausage and potato bread. Lorne sausage (also referred to as flat sausage) has a much coarser texture than regular sausage, and when cooked properly (i.e not too much) can be exceptionally juice and tender.

Potato bread meanwhile ranks as one of Scotlands greatest exports - floury, absorbant and tasty.

The Scooby Snack is no mean feat. But then again, Glasgow is no mean city.