street food party

Supper club is back, and we really had a great theme this time – street food! We could easily repeat this theme every year and have a completely different dinner.

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I made a variant of Turkish borek. This was the second version of borek that I’ve tried, from the cookbook Turquoise by Greg Malouf (a beautiful and inspiring cookbook, btw, but somewhat undependable in the ingredient lists and index). Both used the same yogurt and butter rough puff pastry (yum), but the first batch had a filling of steamed squash, herbs and feta. It was good but very subtle, so for the actual supper club I made a lamb and pine nut filling (the same one I use for my lamb pizza) and it worked very well. These guys are dense and rich and kind of a lot of work but well worth playing around with.

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I also made (apparently because I’m crazy) a batch of dan dan noodles. Well, why not? I’ve been working on this recipe a long time and I’m finally really happy with it and wanted to show it off. You can read about my early attempts here, but at the bottom of this post I’ll describe how I make it now.

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Jenise invented these goodies based on past street food experiences: parmesan crisps with fried artichokes on top. They were addictive.

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Mike and Rich got the gold medal for grilling in a hailstorm. Mike was making these incredible chicken wings – I have no idea what was in them except for fish sauce, but they were delicious. As you can see, by the time I got to the bowl with my camera they were almost gone.

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Rich’s grilling project was the beef satay skewers with bell pepper that he and Georgiann had put together. There were a couple of nice dipping sauces to go with these.

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Marjorie brought empanadas. These looked great and everyone said they were really good, but I had to pass on them due to almond content. Oh well, more tacos for me.

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Linda made these Vietnamese tacos, which are from this recipe. I could have eaten a huge pile of these if I hadn’t been so full from everything else. The pork was incredible, and that crema was blazingly spicy and wonderful. Lots of fun pickled toppings, too.

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And then, from Roger and Mary, an African goat curry with flatbreads.

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Stephanie and Sheila played with a variation on the chocolate-dipped frozen banana on a stick. I didn’t have one of these, since I’m not entirely sure if I can have Frangelico or not, but they made for a great presentation.

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And finally, alfajores made by Linda. Soft, sweet cookies filled with dulce de leche and coated with coconut. And so pretty! One could do oneself a mischief with these.

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For those wondering what was in my dan dan noodles, here’s my secret ingredient: preserved vegetable. I’m pretty sure this is what’s called zha cai, or fermented mustard tuber. It’s full of weird chemicals and MSG, unfortunately, but when you start building your bowl of noodles by stir-frying a packet of this, good things happen. Technically I guess I’m supposed to be using ya cai, which is preserved mustard leaves, but when I’ve asked for ya cai in a Chinese grocery this is what they pointed me to. In any case it’s good and I love the crunchy texture of it in the noodles.

Here’s my current approach for making the noodles – I don’t actually measure anything any more – it means every batch is different, but so far they’ve all been good.

Dan Dan Noodles

  • peanut oil
  • 1 package preserved vegetable
  • 1 pound ground beef or pork
  • Shaoxing rice wine (or sherry)
  • part of a napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • homemade chile oil (and the sludge at the bottom)
  • soy sauce
  • Chinkiang black vinegar
  • ground Sichuan peppercorns
  • one bundle scallions, finely sliced into rings
  • Somen noodles, four bundles or so

Put a pan of water on to boil. Get out a large mixing bowl and put your wok over high heat.

When the wok is hot, pour in a spoonful of peanut oil and toss in the preserved vegetable. Stir fry about 30 seconds, then scrape into the mixing bowl. Put the wok back over the heat.

Add a little more oil to the wok, then add the ground beef. Break it up until it starts to color, then add a splash of rice wine. Cook until it dries out, then scrape into the bowl. Put the wok back on the burner and turn the heat all the way up if it wasn’t already.

A bit more oil, then add the cabbage. Cook over highest heat, stirring constantly, until it’s lightly charred and wilted. Add a bit of soy sauce, stir it in, then scrape it all into the bowl.

Start your noodles cooking – somen only takes a few minutes. To all the cooked stuff in the mixing bowl, add a few spoonfuls of chile oil and some of the sludge from the bottom, a good splash of black vinegar, a big pinch of Sichuan pepper, and a glug of soy sauce. Stir this all up and add the fresh scallions. When the noodles are done, drain them and add them to the bowl. Mix up everything as thoroughly as you can with tongs or a pasta server and taste for seasoning. Eat, adding additional Sichuan pepper if desired.

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