Mozzarella sticks, potato skins, onion rings, and nachos—these are just some of the iconic American snacks we love to enjoy at bars or on game day. They make up an extensive list, but there's more to explore beyond our borders. Poutine and Korean fire chicken aren't just delicious things to eat; they're also avenues of escape, a way to temporarily convince ourselves we're anywhere but in our homes—something we could all use right now. You can revel in the flavors of Jamaica with a wildly spicy pepper shrimp, or close your eyes and imagine you’re in a Spanish bar while scarfing down tapas like patatas bravas and gambas al ajillo. Join us as we eat around the world with this short list of some our favorite drinking snacks from around the world.
Don't see a recipe for the thing you like to nosh on while sipping on a beer or a seltzer? Let us know in the comments and we'll put it on a to-do list.
A Canadian classic, poutine consists of three primary ingredients: crispy fries, soft cheese curds, and a beefy brown gravy. Getting each of these components right takes some time and attention, but the effort is worth it. For the gravy, we mix both beef and chicken stock for a meaty flavor that isn't overpowering. Meanwhile, the potatoes are soaked and then double fried to keep the interior soft and pillowy. Finally, you’ll want to be sure your cheese curds are at room temperature before adding them to the dish.
If their vibrant red color isn’t already a giveaway, be warned that these shrimp are hot. But while the Jamaican specialty relies on fruity Scotch bonnet peppers for heat, it actually gets most of its color from annatto powder and annatto seed oil, which also offer earthy and smoky notes, so the level of spiciness is relatively easy to control. Chop the peppers finely for a more fiery punch, or leave them whole (or leave the seeds out) for something a little more mellow. Whatever you do, make sure to wear gloves when chopping the peppers to prevent capsaicin from getting in places it'll hurt.
Mexico’s version of ceviche, known as aguachile, is made with raw shrimp, lime juice, chiles, cucumber, and onion. Unlike most other ceviche recipes, aguachile is served immediately, while the the shrimp is still raw. For the best flavor, you’ll want to make sure to look for fresh shrimp that’s never been frozen. If you can’t find that, you can always sub in another type of seafood, such as raw sea scallops.
Plantain chips are popular all over Central and South America, as well as the Caribbean, and it’s easy to see why—they’re crunchy, satisfying, and incredibly easy to make. Though the chips vary from place to place, this recipe is based on the ones you’ll find on street corners and stores in El Salvador. The plantains are thinly sliced with a sharp knife or mandoline, then fried until crispy and crunchy. Though they’re delicious with a simple sprinkle of salt, we suggest playing around with seasonings—we even have a Pollo Campero-inspired spiced version.
Pizza gets the Alsatian treatment in this tarte flambée. The flatbread is topped with a tart, spreadable cheese known as fromage blanc, as well as sliced raw onions and bacon. Using tortillas as a base gives the tarte a thin, cracker-like crust while also making it much easier than the classic version.
It doesn’t get as easy or delicious as a pot of French moules marinière. Once you cook your mussels in a mixture of alliums and cider or wine, all that’s left to do is turn that mixture into a rich, creamy sauce by whisking in crème fraîche or mayonnaise (homemade works best here). Toasted bread is perfect for dipping into the sauce, and the leftover white wine from the recipe is ideal for drinking alongside.
Mussels escabeche are a Spanish preparation of mussels in a savory marinade of olive oil, vinegar, garlic, herbs, and spices. Though they're easy enough to find in tinned form, they’re well worth making at home, but you’ll need to plan ahead: this recipe calls for marinating the mussels in the refrigerator for two to three days before eating, and they emerge plump, tender, and full of flavor.
A popular Spanish tapa, gambas al ajillo packs big flavor in a small package. While the shrimp marinates in salt, garlic, and olive oil, we cook their shells with more garlic and olive oil. After the flavorful infused oil is strained, we use it to cook the shrimp until they’re tender and juicy, adding some sherry vinegar and parsley right at the end. Make sure to serve the shrimp with crusty bread for sopping up every last bit of the sauce.
This tapas-style snack is an easy way to get your potato fix on game day. To keep the potatoes from breaking down, we cook them in water with a few tablespoons of vinegar before they get pan-fried and spiced with smoked paprika. The finisher is a drizzle of allioli (or aïoli) which can easily be made by hand or with the help of a food processor.
Greasy, messy, spicy, gooey—buldak is what bar food dreams are made of. The dish gets its spice from gochugaru and gochujang, the latter of which also offers a contrasting sweetness. The chicken thighs are grilled before they’re cut in order to prevent them from drying out, and the entire dish is covered in cheese, which both adds richness and (slightly) tames the spice levels.
Homemade Japanese-style gyoza are easy to make with store-bought dumpling skins. Our trick for keeping the cabbage from getting soggy or mushy is to wring out excess water using a towel. The cabbage is then mixed with the pork, garlic, scallions, and ginger, and a simple seasoning of white pepper, salt, and sugar.
Ultra-crisp fried chicken is a common Korean bar snack, and our recipe will have you biting into an eggshell-thin crust that crackles and crunches. The secret? Adding vodka to the batter. The chicken is best served smothered in sweet soy sauce or sweet and spicy chili sauce.
Here, chicken and scallions need nothing more than salt and brushing of teriyaki sauce to make a delicious negima yakitori. Chicken thighs are best for achieving juicy, tender meat, thanks to their connective tissue and fat. As for the teriyaki sauce, making it yourself is preferable to using anything store-bought—you can even add in some garlic, ginger, or scallions for even more flavor.
Tangy, salty, funky, and spicy, this Vietnamese cured pork preparation is a delicious snack that looks like a work of art. When making this dish, it’s important to be mindful of food safety, cleanliness, and the use of quality meats. Once you take that into consideration, you can easily enjoy the flavors of cured pork, raw garlic, bird's eye chiles, and black and white peppercorns. They complement each other well and go great with a beer on the side.
This popular Thai street food beats satay any day. It’s made of slices of fatty pork butt that are marinated in a punchy mixture that includes garlic, cilantro stems, and both oyster and fish sauce. To keep the meat moist, we brush the skewers with unsweetened coconut cream while they cook, which also creates a sticky glaze. Serve them with a Thai dried chili-vinegar sauce for dipping.
To avoid the overwhelming sweetness that’s typical of many preparations of Mexican shrimp cocktails, we replace some of the ketchup with tomato purée. The two ingredients are mixed with lime and orange juices, cilantro, and jalapeño to make a perfectly tangy sauce that the plump poached shrimp can swim in.
For a cheesy snack in a puffy package, this French pastry is the way to go. The recipe calls for the same steps as our basic choux: using an instant-read thermometer to determine when the paste has been cooked sufficiently, and when it's cool enough to incorporate the eggs. The little cheese puffs bake up golden and crisp, and are best served warm.
Another street food staple, Nigerian beef suya features nutty, spicy beef skewered, grilled, and finished with a sprinkling of yajin kuli, a blend of spices and roasted groundnut or peanut powder. This seasoning is also added to the meat before cooking, helping to caramelize the meat as it chars and takes on a bit of smokiness. Serve next to sliced tomatoes, crisp lettuce, lime wedges, and cilantro.
This Galician preparation of octopus needs nothing more than olive oil, salt, and Spanish smoked paprika to make it shine. Using a pressure cooker helps cut down the cooking time of the octopus significantly. This dish is often served with sautéed onions and boiled potato slices for a more filling snack. When going this route, we like to boil the sliced, peeled potatoes in the leftover octopus cooking water to soak up every last bit of flavor.
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