Pancakes at Fandango

Pancakes, Fandango

This is my favourite breakfast in Melbourne. Ricotta whipped with honey, maple syrup, strawberries, banana and pancakes with . You wouldn’t want to eat it often but your life is incomplete without it. It hits the perfect savoury/sweet balance; that urge that can only be sated by true American barbecue, slow-roasted vegetables or a caramelised meat from a claypot. This is one of the only places that meat and fruit work well together. Not counting tomatoes, pedants.

It’s from Fandango in North Melbourne. While neighbouring café Auction Rooms soaks up the Melbourne hype, Fandango has been running solidly for four years with a tiny shopfront and narrow courtyard only accessible through the kitchen. The only thing that has really changed since 2006 is the queue to get in on the weekends.

Location: Fandango, 97 Errol St, North Melbourne. Tues-Fri 7.30am-3pm, Sat-Sun 8am-3pm, closed Mondays.

French Fry Coated Hot Dog On a Stick: The Recipe

I shouldn’t be left unattended in the kitchen.

French fry coated hotdog


One thing that struck me about finding the French fry coated hot dog on a stick in South Korea was that they were doing it wrong, the sort of cultural misunderstanding that happens when one culture cooks the food of an unrelated and unattached culture and then impales said food on a wooden stick.

Firstly, the hot dog on a stick wasn’t coated in real American fries but chunks of potato and secondly, the hot dog batter was wheat flour rather than a more American corn dog batter. If Americans had have first cooked this one handed food, it would probably be a very different but equally deadly beast. So I set about cooking myself an American-style French fry coated hotdog.

I cooked the French fries from scratch which is entirely un-American: feel free to use the frozen variety.

Ingredients:

One hotdog
One large russet burbank potato
Plenty of oil for deep frying

For the batter:

100gms of plain flour
75gms of cornmeal
1 egg
2 teaspoons of sugar
half a cup of milk

Method:

Russet Burbank Potato

Find yourself a russet burbank potato, about the length of a hotdog.

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Peel the potato then slice into french fries in a mandolin slicer (or do it by hand). Set aside.

Corndog batter

Mix together the dry batter ingredients, add the egg and the milk. Mix to a thick paste, adding more milk if it is too dry: you’re aiming at the batter being thick and sticky rather than runny like a real corn dog batter, slightly more viscous than a dough. Set aside.

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Fry the french fries in oil until golden. Remove from the oil onto a paper towel.

French fry coated hotdog

Coat the hotdog in the batter, then glue the french fries to the dog as best you can. Drop this monstrosity back into the boiling oil and fry until the french fries begin to brown.

French fry coated hotdog
Le Pogo et frites

Remove from the oil and poke a stick into it. Call your cardiologist to make preliminary enquiries about heart surgery. Enjoy.

And then with the leftovers, I cooked French fry coated bacon.

French Fry Coated Bacon on a Stick

When Brillat-Savarin said that “the discovery of a new dish confers more happiness on humanity than the discovery of a new star” he perhaps hadn’t spent much of his time near the deep fryer. This dish confers on humanity nothing but moral decline.

I present to you french fry coated bacon on a stick. Originally I was planning on making a French fry coated, bacon-wrapped hot dog, but thought that the inclusion of the hotdog was largely pointless. Why not just head straight for the bacon?

French fry coated bacon, on a stick


Front.

French fry coated bacon on a stick


Back: French fries attached to the bacon with thick corndog batter. No food styling tricks, apart from using a fondue fork instead of an actual stick. I didn’t have a suitable wooden skewer on hand.

French fry coated bacon on a stick

Tasted. I feel ill and so very, very dirty.

If you’re keen to replicate, do so at your own risk. Follow the french fry coated hot dog recipe, omit the hot dog and substitute with a thick slice of homemade bacon

Hellish hosting issues followed by rewarding breakfast

Bacon and egg

Sorry about the outages to the site over the last week. My hosts have been having problems with their DNS servers, which for laymen, means that the name of my site hasn’t been pointing to where my site is really located. Some people could get to my site, others could not. I’ve fixed it by quitting my other host for Bluehost.

Any further problems, let me know.

I also ate more bacon.

Making Bacon

Making Bacon

There is a descent into a darker realm when you begin cooking with a product labelled “CAUTION: Do not swallow”. The possibility of inadvertently killing your loved ones rises and your ability to rely on the way that a preparation tastes before cooking declines. The normal sensory cues that stop most sane people eating food that is deadly can no longer be relied upon. Things must be measured rather than guessed.

Sodium nitrite, the key to this particular charcuterie abyss, alone is not for human consumption. At least it says as much on the bag. But with it and a little pork belly, salt and sugar, you can free yourself from the hegemony of industrial bacon.

The Basic Bacon Cure
(from Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Charcuterie):

450gms of salt
225gms of sugar
50gms of pink salt (6.25% sodium nitrite; marketed as TCM, Instacure #1)

Method: Mix together thoroughly.

Buy one to two kilos of good pork belly. Lay about 50 grams of the cure onto a surface large enough for your piece of belly. Press all sides of the belly into the cure until it is covered with cure. Bag it into a zip-lock baggie, tag it with the date then refrigerate it for a week turning over every day.

Making Bacon

The wait is over. The belly firms up a little.

Making Bacon

Wash the cure and pork juice from the belly, pat dry, then roast for two hours at 100 degrees Celcius, by which time your house will smell like what I imagine the Sirens would have smelled like to the Argonauts, if Jason had have been in search of the Golden Ham. If it wasn’t nigh on impossible to buy a real American smoker in Australia, this stage would have been supplanted by a few hours over hickory smoke in the backyard. Damn Australian barbecue parochialism.

Making Bacon

Slice off the rind and eat it.

Apart from the possibility that my arteries would clog shut in mid-bite, I couldn’t think of any reason not to crunch away on it. Plus I have a congenital inability to discard anything that is remotely edible. The fact that it is crunchy and bubbling in the first place suggests that my oven is running much hotter than 100 degrees, so I may as well reap the only rewards of a faulty thermostat.

Making Bacon

Slice and fry to your heart’s continued malcontent. Your own bacon will be richer, juicier and thicker. More fat renders from it when cooked. It is texturally more dense and chewier than your store-bought fare. You’ll wonder how you were ever hoodwinked into buying the facsimile of bacon available in most stores and what other sad cuts of pork have been foisted upon you in the past.

Korea: French fry-coated hot dog

frenchfry coated hotdog

If Coney Island witnessed the birth of the hot dog, Seoul in saw subsequent generations mutate into a an entirely new genus of animal. An animal coated in a skin of batter and french fries then presented deep-fried on a stick.

hotdogonstick

After first witnessing this monstrosity on Newley Purnell‘s site, I thought that chasing it down would be difficult. That it would be the type of food that only demented South Korean carnies sold for a scant few days of a State Fair until their consumers ended up in the waiting queue for a heart bypass. The taste is about as obvious as it looks: greasy but still crispy fries glued to a hotdog with a thick, neutral batter.

Hot dog on a stick: variations

It turns out that Seoul is packed full of artisan hot dog vendors. Vendors wrap them in bacon, mashed potato, corn batter or what looked to be seaweed then invariably deep fry them. I spotted three french fry-coated hotdog vendors in the narrow alleys of Myeong-dong alone and a few more in the neighbouring Namdaemun Market.

budae jiggae
home-made budae jigae

I blame this mutation on the Korean War. When meat was scarce in the years during and after the war, Koreans made do with whatever they could scavenge from the surplus from the US armed forces bases – Spam and hotdogs. To make these items edible for Koreans, the locals mixed them together with the paste gochujang in a makeshift stew named “Budae jjigae” (부대찌개) – literally “base stew”. Over the subsequent fifty years, the locals have grown to love the processed meat-flavored soup and it now graces franchise restaurant menus, the only difference being that the stew now contains actual meat along with the mechanically-separated variety.

There seems to be no particular rules to making the stew, insofar that you need gochujang and hotdogs to start, and then whatever seems to be lying about the average Korean kitchen to continue: kimchi, frozen dumplings, greens, ramen, rice cake, actual meat. 50 years of hotdog flavoured broth has to do strange things to your palate and drive you towards experimenting with hotdogs in an obscene and deep-fried manner.

Recipe

Try: French Fry Coated Hot Dog on a Stick Recipe