Often, it’s eight o’clock in the morning in New York and all of a sudden I have an overwhelming craving for spiced lamb. To people outside of New York that may sound completely insane, but to anyone whose commute passes a “street meat” vendor, you know exactly what I mean. New York is known for its plethora of world-renowned fine dining establishments, but some of the best food in the five boroughs can be found on wheels. Street food is an integral part of living in city that never sleeps, and under the tutelage of ICE Chef Instructor Dan Stone a dozen of us learned the ins-and-outs of making some of the signature snacks from the streets of the Big Apple, including giant soft pretzels, candied nuts, souvlaki with tzatiki sauce, and Belgian frites with home-made flavored mayonnaise. I had some concerns that much of the food wouldn’t be as good as it is from a cart somewhere on the Lower East Side, but after a couple of hours with my team the finished products were even more delicious than I could have imagined. If you don’t have unrestricted access to street food here are some tips on making it yourself:
* More Deliciousness: According to Chef Stone, adding lard to your oil when frying Belgian frites (or any fries) is guaranteed to make them more delicious. In addition it also seems to help keep the oil temperature consistent throughout the process. Another secret to these fries is that it’s a two-step frying process. You should first blanch the fries so the inside is cooked like a baked potato, let them cool, and then go back and finish frying them for perfectly crisp frites.
* Not All Dogs Are Created Equal: Hot dogs as we know them were actually invented right here in Coney Island. While the famous Nathan’s hot dogs have managed to spread the world-over, the original family still runs the stand on Coney Island using the original, slightly updated, recipe. The key to a great dog is the ‘snap’ you can only get from hot dogs that are still in their casing.
*The Strain of a Good Tzatziki: Tzatziki is a yogurt sauce that is the mainstay of good Mediterranean food, and people may not be exaggerating when they say, “You just can’t get tzatziki here like they have in Greece.” In fact, most yogurt in Greece starts with about 10% butterfat content. Here in America, even the full fat yogurt is only about 3.5% butterfat content. Straining it can help though, as removing moisture allows for a higher concentration of butterfat.
After making our way though all the recipes our class sat down to a feast fit for… well, fit for a sidewalk. I wouldn’t have it any other way.