Monday, February 06, 2017

A Taste of Stockholm's Funky Food Truck Culture

When my friends picked me up from the airport in Stockholm this past summer, the first place that they insisted upon taking me was to the food trucks that set up on the weekends along the river in Södermalm (which means "South Island" and is not at all unlike hipster Brooklyn, NYC).
You have a wealth of cuisines from which to choose, it's very inexpensive, and then you sit on these bleachers in the sunshine while you dine. It's all quite a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon!
Beyond the food trucks, there's also an eclectic flea market that you can browse your way through after lunch.
Though my friend, Jen, decided on Greek fare, her husband, Mats and I opted for--ironically--"New York Style" Chicken and Rice from a fabulous truck (complete with operational disco ball!) calling itself the Funky Chicken.
The dish was comprised of yellow rice, grilled chicken marinated with Mediterranean flavors, a refreshing yogurt sauce, and a spicy harissa hot sauce, garnished with flat-leaf parsley, and served with a side of "sallad" (cole slaw) and a piece of crusty bread.
The chicken and rice was so delicious, and it reminded me very much of the halal chicken that you get from food carts in New York City. (Funny that I traveled all the way to Sweden to enjoy New York cuisine!)
Since my visit, I have reflected fondly and often on that dish, so much so that I had no choice but to try and copycat it--or something close to it--at home. And here was my recreation! Pretty close in both looks and taste, I'd say! I need to make some minor tweaks, but I was pretty proud of my first attempt.
Before I get into the recipes, I have to share a funny epilogue to my Stockholm food truck tale. The following weekend, we returned to the food trucks on Södermalm, and despite all of the wonderful choices of things to eat, I found myself back at the Funky Chicken, this time to try their "award-winning" triple cheeseburger. But as is my way, I had to put it together in a way that even the chef didn't know how good it could be.

Actually, I made them quite angry by asking if they'd put some of the harissa sauce, yogurt sauce, and slaw on my burger. They balked at this request, but with some persuasion on my part, the cook finally agreed to give me the condiments on the side. But the guy told me that I would DESTROY the burger if I put that stuff on it. (That's a direct quote.) What he failed to realize is that they could be making money hand over fist if he sold the Mediterranean Burger that I designed! It was frickin' DELICIOUS! They didn't understand who they were dealing with! I KNOW THINGS!

Instant Pot Yellow Rice
(Source: Adapted from Budget Bytes)

2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups uncooked long grain jasmine rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf

Add the butter, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon and rinsed rice to the IP. Sauté over medium heat for a couple of minutes, or just until the garlic has softened. Add the chicken broth and bay leaf to the pot. Put the lid on and cook for four minutes on manual. Let release naturally, then fluff with a fork.

Mediterranean Grilled Chicken and Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce
(Source: Adapted from The Mediterranean Dish)

For the Dill Greek Yogurt Sauce:
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh dill, stems removed
1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt, to taste

Combine the minced garlic, fresh dill, yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, white wine vinegar, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and whisk together. Season with salt. Transfer to a small container, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to use.

For the Grilled Chicken:
10 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom (or substitute cinnamon)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium size red onion, sliced
1 large lemon

In a large bowl, mix together the minced garlic, yogurt, spices and olive oil. Toss in the whole chicken thighs and the sliced onion. Cut the lemon into eighths, squeeze the juice into the bowl, and also add the rinds in. Mix everything together making sure to thoroughly coat the chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate for 2-4 hours or overnight.

When ready, heat a gas grill to medium-high. Place the chicken thighs on the grill. Cover for 5-6 minutes, then turn the chicken over and grill for another 5-6 minutes covered. (You can also use a grill pan or pan-fry them in a skillet if weather does not permit outdoor grilling.)

Harissa Tomato Sauce
(Source: Adapted from Abel and Cole)

2 garlic cloves
1/2 onion
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
harissa, to taste
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 15 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 small can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Peel and finely chop the garlic and onion. Finely grate zest from the lemon and juice it.
2. Warm the olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic and onion. Stir and cook for one minute until the pan smells sweet and spicy.
3. Add harissa, lemon zest, sugar, tomatoes, tomato sauce, and the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Bring to the boil. Turn the heat down. Cover with a lid. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce is a little thicker. Stir every so often while the sauce cooks.
5. Remove the bay leaf, and use a stick blender to puree the sauce until smooth.
6. Add the lemon juice to the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Swedish Cabbage Sallad
(Source: Adapted from Key Ingredient)

1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cabbage, very finely shredded
1 carrot, shredded
5 teaspoons white wine vinegar
5 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon oregano (optional)
1/2 teaspoon basil (optional)

Sprinkle the salt over the cabbage. Let sit for 15 minutes or so, then squeeze as much liquid out as you can. Combine vinegar, oil, sugar, salt, pepper, oregano and basil. Stir in the cabbage and shredded carrot. Refrigerate until ready to serve. (It's better the next day!)

Note: This salad is somewhat different than the one I had at the Funky Chicken, and that was intentional. This recipe is for what the Swedes call "pizza salad," which as the name suggests, is apparently served with pizza in Sweden.


Blogging said...

Weird how I ended up on your blog - through a FB feed about Trump's mistaken Swedish terror attack. No matter, glad I found this. The Funky Ckicken recipe is right up my alley. Rice in my IP and chicken on my grilll coming up!

Joy Bugaloo said...

Ha ha ha! That's awesome! Let me know how your Funky Chicken turns out. :-)