The culinary scene in Ottawa has improved significantly over the past few years. New restauranteurs continue to open fresh, vibrant places that feature local (often organic) menus that change with the seasons (or more often), and wine lists that favour smaller producers over multinational conglomerates. They are a welcomed alternative to the chain restaurants where a large percentage of the menu comes frozen or from a can.
That being said, there’s one culinary area that hasn’t yet broken through Ottawa’s collective mediocrity – street food. I’ll be the first to admit that I love a good sausage and poutine, but with a few notable exceptions (such as the Stone Soup Foodworks truck), that’s about all you can get from your local street vendors.
Food trucks have become the latest foodie trend. I recently read an article about the street food scene in Portland Oregon, where offerings include: pad Thai, crêpes, tacos, bacon and eggs, and fried chicken. In L.A., there are so many different offerings, a website lists all the street vendor’s Twitter handles, so diners can stay up to the minute on where their local truck will be.
Earlier this month, Mrs. Sheldon was watching The Great Food Truck Race on The Food Network, which featured one of L.A.’s most renowned, the Nom Nom truck. Nom Nom specializes in Vietnamese Bahn Mi sandwiches, which are essentially baguettes filled with various spiced meats, and a variant of pickled coleslaw. The sandwiches looked so good that I tracked down a recipe to give them a whirl.
While it seems daunting, the recipe is actually quite easy. After a trip to our local Asian food store to pick up a few of the ingredients (daikon and fish sauce aren’t usually hanging around my pantry), I was ready to go. Shredded the daikon and carrot, to mix the slaw. (A word to the wise: pickling the slaw does take some time, and does smell up your kitchen. You may want to crack a window.) Mixed the pork meatballs, and prepared the sandwich dressing.
About 20 minutes before dinner, I browned the meatballs in the skillet, and finished them in a 300⁰ oven for about eight minutes. Once finished, the sandwiches were easy to assemble with the prepared ingredients. The result: a flavourful combination of savoury, spicy heat, contrasting the sweet crunchy slaw, and the chewy fresh roll. Would I make this again? In a heartbeat.
By the way, if you’d like to see more variety in the Ottawa street food scene, the good folks at the Wig.ca have put together a petition for more options. I encourage you to sign up and be heard.~SS