Tag Archives: budget friendly

Vancouver Streetfood: Roaming Dragon Pan-Asian

I love streetfood: tasty, no fuss, eat-it-while-u-walk snacks that make my tummy happy without breaking my budget. I especially love the kind of streetfood that’s more than just a snack, it’s a real treat. The sight of a quality streetfood vendor should provoke the same kind of primitive Pavlovian response as the sound of the Ice Cream Man and make me come runnin’ with a handful of loonies. Gingerman and I have found exactly that vendor.

Four Little Dishes = One Great Meal

The Roaming Dragon is like a tapas bar on wheels. They offer a selection of fresh, fun, Asian-fusion goodies that go beyond preconceived notions of “food cart” cuisine. We spotted the truck visiting Kits Point near Arbutus and Whyte, and they have made appearances at Vancouver Farmers Markets. We selected 3 dishes for $15 and took advantage of their “Dragonista” twitter promo for a free Lychee Lemonade. Great deal!

Connect with Roaming Dragon for up-to-date locations and info!

Twitter     @Dragontruck
Website    www.roamingdragon.com
Facebook  www.facebook.com/DragonTruck

Things we love @ Roaming Dragon:

  • EVERYTHING! The flavours are there, man!
  • Perfect portions for a snack or light lunch.
  • 2-3 items + Lychee Basil Lemonade = a nice picnic for two.
  • Soba Noodles are vegetarian, and tofu can sub for duck in confit salad.

Lychee Basil Lemonade ~ Cool, tart, sweet, and refreshing.

Nice twist on a summertime standard. Basil is related to mint, and adding it to the mix was brilliant. The drink has unexpected texture, with little chunks of lychee swimming around, and is served with a wide straw. Personally, I’m not a big fan of lychee, but Gingerman liked the drink so much we came back later and bought a second one.

Duck Confit Salad ~ Savory, melt-in-your-mouth duck confit served warm on a bed of young green things with little chunks of pineapple and watermelon.

I loved the addition of watermelon. It gave a completely different contrast in texture and flavour than the pineapple, and both fruits make good company for duck. As a whole, it was nicely balanced and not too sweet. Requires a fork or chopsticks (if you’re the civilized sort).

Short Rib Tacos ~ Korean style shortrib cradled in a tiny soft taco with a little nori, some greens, carrots, and bean sprouts.

Nicely spiced sort of East meets West take on tacos el pastor. This was the dish I most wanted to try, and it was a NUMMY success!

Rice Balls ~ Crispy fried balls of fried rice.

I know, it sounds deadly, but taste was the payoff. The coating was crispy and quite thin, just doing its job at holding the rice in shape. The rice was a little creamy, with an aroma of 5-spice and the taste of soy in the background. On top, a little drizzle of golden sauce with hints of curry—yum!

*Pork Belly Sliders ~ Tender morsel of pork, thin-sliced cucumber, tasty sauce, soft bun.

Char Siu Bau magically transformed into a dim-sum slider! Skeptical at first, I took one bite and was hooked. Ingenious and delicious.

*NOTE: I confess, when Gingerman listed options from the menu, pork belly was not my first pick. I’ve had a few bad experiences with greasy, chewy pork belly at restaurants, and didn’t want to spend our dough on the possibility of disappointment. However, after we paid for our main order, the hubs let slip that I was planning to blog about the food, and Dragontruck threw in the sliders gratis. I thank them from the bottom of my stomach. Totally loved them!

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Rainer Cherry Clafoutis

Clafoutis ~ I’ve heard the name tossed about on food TV frequently the past few days, and today it was all I could think about when I saw a stack of beautiful, blushy Rainer cherries at a Granville Island produce stand. This French dessert can be made with any stone fruit (think peaches, plums, apricots) or even with berries, but the classic version from the Limosin region of France uses black cherries.

Rainer Cherry Clafoutis with vanilla ice cream and cherry sauce.

Technically, a clafoutis using anything other than black cherries is a flaugnarde, so says the intertoobs, and in traditional recipies, cherry pits are not removed before baking. Leaving the pits is said to enhance flavour, but I didn’t want to have to pick around them, so I pitted my cherries.

Ingredients are simple: egg, milk, flour, flavour, a little butter or oil. Clafoutis batter is rather thin, like crepe batter, and is usually flavoured with almond or vanilla. It puffs up during baking and cuddles around the fruit as it sets. In fact, it’s very much like making a Dutch Baby pancake.

This was my first attempt at clafoutis, and it turned out quite well. Gingerman liked it, and we had the leftover portion for breakfast the next day. I half made up a recipe on the fly because I had only 2 eggs and a strangely shaped dish. A few more experiments, and I’ll come up with a reliable version of my own. Meanwhile, I found some inspiring recipes online and gathered a bit of clafoutis wisdom to share.

Baking Tips for Clafoutis:

  • Butter & Sugar the baking dish: Butter the bottom and sides of the dish, toss in a couple of tablespoons of sugar, and shake it around to coat the dish. Dump excess sugar that doesn’t stick.
  • Experiment with different fruits and flavour extracts or liquers.
  • Sift the flour to prevent clumps.
  • Bake individual clafoutis in muffin tins or ramekins.
  • Do not open the oven door until the end of baking time!

Recipes for Clafoutis:

Leaving a comment? I’m curious . . . how do you like to eat cherries?

Vancouver Events: The Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat racing began in southern China as a Summer Solstice fertility ritual to ensure a good harvest. During the fourth century BC, the story of  patriot-poet Qu Yuan becomes integrated in Dragon Boat history. Qu Yuan was banished from his beloved country and, in despair, leapt into a river clutching a heavy rock. The people tried to save him, racing out in their fishing boats, defending his body from fish and water dragons by beating drums and splashing with their oars.

#5 crew looks relieved to cross the finish line first

Modern Dragon Boat races still occur near the Summer Solstice and at the opening ceremony for race events, a Taoist priest performs an “eye dotting” ceremony to awaken the dragons and bless them, cleansing the racecourse and envigorating the paddlers.

2010 marks the 22nd Annual Dragon Boat Festival taking place in the waters of False Creek in Vancouver, British Columbia. Admission is FREE. Festival entrances are located near Concord Place and Science World. Take the bus or skytrain, ride your bike, or just hoof it and leave the car at home.

A gorgeous day for festival fun.

Of course, there’s plenty of festival food, from dim sum and perogies to Jamaican patties and kettle korn. Vera’s has a burger stand set up, and there’s no shortage of those cute and tasty Mini Doughnuts. Food vendors take Dragon Dollars instead of cash. PURCHASE Dragon Dollars at booths near entryways. Grownups can also buy beer/wine tickets and relax in the Beer Garden hosted by Granville Island Brewery.

About 180 Dragon Boat teams will participate this year, and races are frequent. There’s plenty of fun to be had, so go down and enjoy music from the World Beat stage or peruse goodies and info offered by vendors, companies, and local organizations. Don’t forget to see what’s cookin at the Aluminum Chef contest (finals on Sunday). You might even get to guest-judge a dish!

Find out more about the Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival.

Country Style Potato Cakes

My Sissy is an excellent cook. She can work magic in the kitchen with nothing but a prayer in the pantry, and her country cookin’ is da bomb. A couple of days ago, I made a heap of garlic mashed potatoes, and I wanted to do something other than just reheat the leftovers, so I called up my Sissy for a little culinary inspiration. She helped me whip up a batch of potato cakes over the phone. I have many fond memories of these crispy little potato patties, creamy on the inside, served hot out of the pan with a drizzle of ketchup on top.

Fresh out of the pan.

Fresh out of the pan.

It’s one of those things every good country cook can make, but it’s nearly impossible to find a recipe for them. Some books call them “potato pancakes” which is a little misleading, because they aren’t anything like a pancake or crepe. They’re a little more like a latke, except latkes use grated raw potato like hash browns (related to but not the same as home fries, which use sliced or diced potatoes). Good potato cakes start out with good mashed potatoes that have been in the fridge overnight. My garlic mashed potatoes recipe is at the bottom of this post.

They were as good as I remember . . . better, in fact. The “loaded” version is also extremely tasty and would make a delicious companion for a nice juicy rib eye steak.

Country Style Potato Cakes

2 C cold mashed potatoes
1/2 small onion, minced and sauteed (optional)
1/3 – 1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1 tsp mustard
olive oil + butter for pan frying

Mix together potatoes, egg, mustard, and cooked onion. Add enough flour (up to 1/2 cup) to hold potato mixture together. The mixture should not be too stiff, but if your leftover potatoes are very moist, you may need to add extra flour.

Melt 1 Tbs butter with 1 Tbs olive oil in frying pan over medium heat. Drop a heaping spoonful of potato mix in the pan. Spread it gently to form a small patty about 1/2 inch thick. Make several cakes, but don’t crowd the pan.

Fry until crisp and golden on both sides (turning once). Add more butter/olive oil between batches.

Transfer to wire rack to cool slightly. Serve hot with ketchup on the side.

Cheesily delicious.

Cheesily delicious.

Loaded Potato Cakes

Add 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese to the potato mixture.

Top with sour cream, bacon crumbles, and green onion.

A Few Notes:

  • Putting the cakes on a rack for just a couple of minutes after frying keeps the outside crispy. They’ll hold their heat long enough to finish the batch.
  • Some folks make a stiffer potato mix (using more flour), then shape the patties and dredge them in flour before frying. I think this makes the potato cakes tough and can affect the taste, plus it’s not really necessary.
  • Potato cakes are a blank canvas. They accept many variations in flavour, and can be altered or garnished to suit personal tastes. Ginger Man likes his with spicy mayo (mayo mixed with Frank’s hot sauce). I think topping them with a poached egg and some hollandaise sauce would make a nice change for brunch.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (diced and boiled until tender)
1 Tbs garlic minced (about three cloves)
2 Tbs butter
1/3 Cup sour cream
1/4 Cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

Saute the garlic briefly in butter (1 or 2 minutes). Drain the cooked potatoes, then mash them up with the garlic butter and remaining ingredients until smooth and creamy. Reserve about 2 cups of mashed potato for potato cakes. Store covered in refrigerator.