Street food is on the up. But there's no need to leave the house to get it. Esquire's head chef Mark Hix shows you how.
Everywhere you look right now Mexican taco houses, New York burger joints and Sichuan noodle bars are popping up, and they’re amazingly popular.
The funny thing is, most homegrown versions of what we might have once called UK “street food” have gone upmarket, got a mortgage and are now served in restaurants as opposed to on the pavement.
Look at Yianni Papoutsis, who gave up his popular London burger van The Meatwagon for the comfier confines of a bricks and mortar burger joint in the West End when he opened Meatliquor at the end of last year.
There are, of course, little pockets in the UK’s larger cities where street food is still served as intended, such as Golborne Road in London’s Notting Hill, where there are superb Moroccan street traders selling freshly cooked delights.
There are always plenty of farmers’ markets bringing in quality street-food purveyors, too. Not long ago, I judged the British Street Food Awards finals at the Ludlow Food Festival, and traders from all over the country turned out grub we used to think of as “street food” in high style. Here’s my take on the good stuff.
You can vary the marinade for this — everyone has their own personal take on what makes the best. It’s probably worth cooking up more pork than you need, as it will make a great cold cut the next day. You can buy corn or flour tortillas from most good supermarkets, or have a bash at making your own.
A piece of boneless pork belly, weighing about 1.5kg, with the rind removed
100g tamarinds or honey
100g pomegranate molasses
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
60g root ginger, peeled and grated
1/2tbsp ground cumin
To serve 20 or so tacos
Sprigs of coriander
Green tomato salsa
1 small red onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
1tbsp red wine vinegar
1 large green or red chilli, finely chopped
100ml olive oil
200-250g tomatillos or green tomatoes, cut into rough 1cm chunks
2tbsp chopped coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix all of the ingredients together and rub over the pork belly then place in a non-reactive (enamel, plastic or steel) container, cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 24 hours — the longer the better.
Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC/gas mark 5.
Transfer the pork belly and the marinade to a baking or roasting tin and bake for 30mins, basting it as it’s cooking.
Turn the oven down to
160°C/gas mark 3, cover the tray with foil and continue cooking and basting for another hour, then remove the foil and continue for a final 30-45mins.
To serve, shred the pork belly then pile onto some warmed tacos with a dollop of salsa (see right for the recipe) and plenty of coriander.
For the green tomato salsa:
Simmer the red onions in the red wine vinegar for 30secs then remove from heat. Mix the red onions with chilli, olive oil, tomatillo, chopped coriander and season to taste.
Photograph by Jason Lowe