Soft-shelled crab burger at the World Street Food Jamboree
By KF Seetoh - Friday, May 10, 2013
In a story earlier, I mentioned some of the best food trucks chefs from Portland, Oregon, whom I hope will come and participate at our World Street Food Congress Jamboree. I shall keep myself in suspense no more. For starters, this city is the first to introduce street food trucks in USA (since 1985) and now they have over 600 of such food contraptions.
When I visited this duty free shopping state in February (all branded stuff are about 20% cheaper), I checked out at least 150 trucks. Most were humdrum Tex-mex-taco-burito-kimchi stuff, but some were gems. When our partner and researcher, Brett Burmiester, brought us to a few of his favourite trucks (he is “the man” when it comes to food truck business and makan in this cold city), I started to imagine what it’ll be if they set up a stall at our Jamboree. I can only tease you with a whiff of what’s to come at the event in June.
The Swamp Shack
The set up looks as if it’s designed to match its name. An almost run down food truck with some wood edges looking like it needs a scrub. But inside, it’s all precision and methodology, led on chef Trey Cokern. He dishes out southern, Cajun, Creole and New Orleans chow and it is very hearty and satisfying. He has a few items but I had to zoom in on two. Otherwise, his shack at the Jamboree may swamp by too much different orders. His Smothered Chicken – chunks of the stewed meats sitting on a spicy mash, is so hearty and appealing. Stuff you’ll want to put into your face while wondering what else is next. He may just sprinkle some spring onions over, hardly decorative at all, but it stands out with a little kick on its own.
I totally adore his Shrimps and Grits. It tastes and looks as bold as it sounds. A few mid-sized deep fried prawns are planted in a bed of spicy mash grits (corn polenta). I know of nothing here that comes close to this, but these things are strangely comforting which is why they branded it as soul food.
Charles Thomas was a grind-the-mill chef churning fine food to folks in a restaurant before he hit the streets with his Eurotrash food truck. They do an Americana-on-European food and come up with stuff like pan seared foie gras on spicy chips (just imagine). When they served me a Soft-shelled Crab Burger with spicy mayo-yoghurt sauce, I flipped just after one bite. And it was served without the burger patty as “it’s all gone, buddy.” My imagination says- once the patty and the tempura soft shell crab sits between the buns, the skies will open and the heavens will clap. Look forward to this one.
I could not help but notice what was going on in the food truck right beside Eurotrash. It had a bold sign that simply hawked “Peoples’ Pig”. Our colleague Abel was already in the line for one of their signatures..the Porchetta Sandwich. Honestly, one look at the sandwich did not raise any fireworks in my brain. But when I stole a bite, I knew I had to make room for one more Portland makan truck. The spices that chef Cliff Allen introduced to the slow roasted meat made it soft and not porky. The arugula he added inside was heavenly. He suggested using coriander for the Singapore Jamboree gig as it is as sweet and foresty and will not rock the price upwards and invite hate mail.
Get in line for them in the first week of June at the F1 Paddock.
The World Street Food Jamboree (31 May to 9 June) is a mega street food feast featuring up to 40 of the world’s best street food masters from Indonesia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, USA, Mexico, Malaysia, Denmark, China and Singapore. The Jamboree aims to create better awareness for some of the lesser known but still excellent street cuisine and the personalities behind it, bond communities through a vibrant food experience and generate opportunities for the public to the part of the industry. For more information, go to www.wsfcongress.com