Every once in a while (OK, fine—every weekend) I seek out those drool-inducing caravans of munchie love that we call food trucks. Food trucks are becoming increasingly sophisticated –it’s not just kettle corn or tacos anymore. With these trucks, you’re getting premium eats in your city curbside—and you don’t even have to make a reservation.
There’s nothing better than walking up to that welcoming wagon of wafting scents and asking for a paper cone filled with crispy pommes frites, or a falafel sandwich dripping with extra tahini sauce (and I call bonus points if you stumble across a food truck festival with a smorgasbord of culinary delights). With the new generation of food truck, your favorite restaurants and chefs serve up their very best eats through a tiny little truck window.
Food trucks don’t stop at the streets. They’ve also started cropping up on shows like The Great Food Truck Race with Tyler Florence on the Food Network, Food Truck Face Off on the Food Network and in sleeper hits like the film Chef, directed by and starring Jon Favreau.
Adam Hynam-Smith, the chef and co-owner of El Gastronomo Vagabundo, is a Canadian food truck legend, and he totally gets it. His new cookbook Curbside—Modern Street Food From a Vagabond Chef (Whitecaps Books, LTD; June 15, 2015) takes you on a mouthwatering journey that showcases his flair for diverse foods. He’s an Aussie who has traveled all over the country in search of delicious fare and his recipes are inspired by his nomad ways.
Hynam-Smith pushes the boundaries with his playful cooking style and diverse creations. He’s taken his talent from stovetop to streets, he never sacrifices quality, and he has fun doing it. Every dish is made with love and care—they don’t take shortcuts. Hynam-Smith and his team are not afraid of pickling and preserving everything under the sun (fennel, watermelon, you name it). They also create all of their drinks from scratch. How about a chili and mint limeade or a sparkling Thai tea float with coconut ice cream to wash down these amazing Bangkok pancakes? We’ll see you in line at the trucks!
Bangkok Pancakes with Pad Thai Slaw
During my time in Bangkok, I was addicted to two particular street-food dishes: khanom krok and pad Thai. Khanom krok are little coconut tarts or waffles, and pad Thai is a sweet, sour and spicy noodle dish known around the world. This recipe is my adaptation of both dishes into a refreshing and colorful salad that will put a smile on the faces of your dinner party guests.
1 cup (250 mL) coconut milk
1 large egg
1/2 cup (125 mL) rice flour
1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (80 mL) palm sugar, shaved
4 green onions, finely sliced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) canola oil
Pad Thai Slaw
1/4 napa cabbage, sliced into a chiffonade (ribbons)
1/4 cup (60 mL) roasted unsalted peanuts, crushed
1/2 cup (125 mL) cilantro leaves
1/2 cup (125 mL) chili jam
1 cup (250 mL) bean sprouts
Juice of 1 lime
In a large bowl, whisk coconut milk and egg until combined thoroughly. Add rice flour, all-purpose flour, and palm sugar. Mix well. Add green onions and mix to combine. Set aside at room temperature.
In a large bowl, combine cabbage, peanuts, cilantro, Chili Jam, bean sprouts, and lime juice. Toss to combine well. Set aside at room temperature.
Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet or cast iron griddle over high heat. Brush with oil to completely coat cooking surface. Reduce to medium-high heat, and ladle enough batter to create a pancake approximately 8 inches (20 cm) in diameter. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until the surface of the pancake bubbles. Carefully flip the pancake and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Repeat cooking process with remaining pancakes.
To serve, place one pancake on each serving plate, and neatly pile slaw in the center of each pancake. Serve immediately.