Cookbook road test: My Street Food Kitchen
Food writer and stylist Jennifer Joyce’s latest book is a pick ’n’ mix buffet of the best things from all over the planet.
Pulling together such a wide range of recipes comes with its challenges, though: to what extent do you sacrifice authenticity to achievability? And how do you balance the two?
This book gets the balance between authenticity and achievability just right. The recipes have been simplified by limiting the number of specialist ingredients and by making the methods as do-ably concise as possible. Strictly speaking, not all the recipes (the Indian curries, for example) qualify as ‘street food’, but regardless of their provenance, all have a common thread: gutsy, lively, punchy flavours. Chapters carve up the globe, from Jennifer’s own USA to Mexico and South America, the Med, the Middle East, China and Taiwan, Japan and Korea, and Southeast Asia and India.
Quality of the recipes
Narrowing down the list of test dishes to just two was a trial, with much flipping back and forth: should I go for sticky buffalo chicken wings or crunchy Japanese chicken kara-age? Goan pork vindaloo or Roman porchetta sandwiches? Taiwanese bao buns or Mexican tostadas?
I settled on Santorini tomato fritters with yogurt dip, and Vietnamese-style chicken with tamarind sauce, shallots and pickled chillies. The first recipe required no special shopping trip – I was able to pull it together from what I already had to hand. Instructions and timings were spot-on and the fritters tasted just as the author’s headnote promised: sublime.
The Vietnamese chicken required nothing more specialist than tamarind purée and fish sauce. The zingy, hot, sour, spicy and savoury flavours were a treat that, once cooked, tested my powers of self-control. The recipes were clear and easy to follow, with sensible get-ahead tips and (joy!) they had clearly been tested.
Jean Cazals’ pictures and sumptuous food styling by the writer make you want to dive right in.
People who choose their holiday destinations based on what they’re likely to eat while they’re there, and just about anyone else with a taste for adventure. Starting-out cooks shouldn’t shy away as the instructions are clear, although confident, well-travelled cooks will find much to sink their teeth into.
My Street Food Kitchen: Fast and Easy Flavours From Around the World by Jennifer Joyce (£18.99; Murdoch Books)