From snails to street food, Laura Cartledge takes a closer look at the current culinary trends.
Street food has come a long way, in a short time.
Forget the burger and hot dog vans, the fare on offer is broad ranging and far from bland.
Plus, with the Sussex Food and Drink Awards introducing a category to recognise this growing culinary scene, it has gone from the pavement to parties quicker than you can say ‘would you like onions with that?’.
“People are becoming more interested in what is out there. They don’t want run of the mill, they don’t want the supermarket’s pre-packaged meals and they don’t want the same korma that every restaurant is serving,” explains Ranie Sirah, owner of Punjabi inspired Jah Jyot.
“Our unique selling point, if you will, is that our food tells a story – each of the recipes is something that mum taught me.
“My mum would have been over the moon. I sadly lost her 20 years ago, but I can still imagine her being on the stall sitting in a big chair saying ‘that is mine and that is mine’.”
As well as influencing the dishes, Ranie’s family deserve credit for nudging him towards achieving his long held ambition of running such a business.
“My 12 year old, in his wise way, told me one day ‘you have been unhappy for a while – why don’t you just do it, you’ve dreamt of it for so long’,” Ranie recalls. “We sat there drawing the logos and discussing the name.
“Jack’s Indian name, Prubjyot, means god’s light, but he wanted it to relate to all of my children – Jack, Alana and Hollie – so we put their initials down and it means children’s light,” he reveals. “It became his way of saying, ‘dad we want you to be happy’.”
There’s no doubt it has managed that, and speaking to Ranie you are left with no doubt his passion, the authenticity and a focus on quality, local produce, are some of the reasons business is booming.
“It has been better than I ever anticipated,” he confesses. “It has been mind blowing really.”
Having started in February last year, Ranie lists key milestones as ‘the first freezing day out at Horsham market’ and being recognised at the food and drink awards.
“To get to being a grand finalist was a dream come true and to come a runner up was an amazing achievement,” he smiles, “we never thought we would get to that point, not in our first year.
“I remember waking up the next morning with the certificate next to me and I just kept staring at it – thinking, how did we get here?”
Crediting the recent trend for ‘energetic’ food programmes, like ‘the Hairy Bikers and Jamie doing their road trips’, Ranie says it has been great timing for Jah Jyot which itself shares a foodie journey.
“My family say I am telling our story, we were 1972 refugees and it is about now being in the UK but still keeping hold of the traditions,” he reveals, “just adapting it to where we are and using the produce.
“People would say ‘I’ve had keema before, what is different?’ And I will tell them how the minced lamb, and all my meat, comes from Hutchings in Partridge Green,” continues Ranie. “How it is slow cooked for eight to nine hours and the spicing is introduced at different levels throughout the cooking process.
“It is also my Baba’s keema, Baba meaning wise father, it is my dad’s recipe.”
Like with his Aloo Subji – a potato curry that Ranie fondly refers to as the picnic curry as it conjures memories of his mum cooking it and the family having it cold on the beach the next day – his enjoyment of cooking comes from connections.
“It is about those links,” he enthuses, “and when I talk to people they come out with stories themselves, that often have been stuck in the back of their heads.”
As for street foods, Ranie also believes there are other simple reasons for its rise.
“People are realising you don’t need to go to a restaurant to get quality food,” he states, “you don’t have to pay the extortionate prices at places that have to pay their overheads and you can see it cooked in front of you – you can have the theatre of it.”
Anyone for snails?
Snails are outselling salad, and wild venison is surpassing that old favourite roast chicken.
According to a survey by Restaurant Group Brasserie Blanc, diners have developed a taste for more adventurous dishes.
And the statistics are quite staggering, with twice as many people opting for wild venison casserole over roast chicken last winter, while a fifth more ordered snails than goats’ cheese salad.
A survey by the chain of 2,000 people went on to discover men (55 per cent) are more adventurous than women (43 per cent) when it comes to the dishes they would try, with double the amount of men open to trying steak tartare than women.
A third of parents surveyed revealed their children have tried liver, 23 per cent have tried sushi and even 3.5 per cent have tried brains.
The most adventurous eaters fall in the 18-24 year bracket, with the desire to experiment peaking at the age of 20.
Brasserie Blanc’s survey also revealed that people are most adventurous when dining out in restaurants and least adventurous when dining at other people’s houses. 62 per cent saying they wished high street restaurant menus were more inspiring.
As a result it is little surprise that the chain’s options like slow-braised Lincolnshire pigs’ cheeks; 18-hour venison casserole and snails bourguignon are going down well.
Believing there is a clear need for high street restaurants to ‘up their game’, and to satisfy the diner’s desire for something different, Brasserie Blanc is launching a week-long Festival of Flavour event from April 11-17 boasting tastings, demonstrations, new ingredients and special family events
Follow @BrasserieBlanc for further news on the festival.
Japanese cuisine is far from a new trend, but as the likes of Wagamama and YO! Sushi have become high street staples there is a move to try and recreate favourite dishes at home.
Helping with this is The Tsuji Culinary Institute’s best-selling Practical Japanese Cooking: Easy and Elegant which has just been released in a revised softcover edition.
The illustrated book by Shizuo Tsuji and Koichiro Hata features 103 recipes for classic dishes adapted to suit the average home cook.
Grilled Beef with Miso
Miso-yaki traditionally sees fish coated with miso and grilled over a direct flame, while here the method is adapted for beef. The miso brings out the mellow flavour of the marbling.
450g tenderloin or fillet of beef
1 medium courgette
4 tbsp red miso sauce
2 – 3 tsps toasted poppy seeds
2 tbsps vegetable oil
4 sprigs of watercress
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Cut the beef into pieces ( 1 x 2.5 x 5cm)
Peel the courgette, slice in half lengthwise then cut into 1cm half moons.
Skewer two pieces of beef on a pair of skewers, sprinkle lightly with salt and grill over a high heat until browned, turn over and repeat.
Remove skewers and generously spread miso sauce on each piece.
Line a shallow baking pan with foil and arrange the beef over the bottom, place under a hot broiler (or a grill) until the miso starts to brown slightly.
Remove and top with poppy seeds.
Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the courgette. When tender season with salt and pepper and remove from heat.
Arrange the beef and courgette in serving dishes, garnish with the watercress and serve.
April 1, 2016 Food and Drink