Saigon Taqueria

print: Tyson Skross

Nothing says lovely like a home cooked meal.  When you go traveling and take over the floor of someones home, you are in their gratitude for letting you stay. It’s a no-brainer that you cook ’em a meal, direct from your heart to their stomachs. In this instance, I really wanted to make something that harked back to the early days of friendship and to incorporate where my head is at food-wise nowadays.

The pic you see, at the top of the page, is a  print done by my friend. Made in the days when he was newly sprung from home and feelings were still strong, rooting him back to certain places and situations. In the picture, the building to the right was the dopest little Vietnamese takeaway. If you look in the background that was my buddy’s house. You could call this food emporium a matter of convenience. Geneva where we both grew up, is not really known for great places to get a take-out. It’s not really part of the Swiss cultural idiom. A fine blend of fate happened upon us in those days; whether it be skating, smoking, bullshitting or drinking, or just taking on the world through our own awkwardly sweet observations. In between these fine fascinations and when we  had a few coins to rub together, a quick trip to Saigon Traiteur, for caramel pork with rice or noodles and a couple bottles of Tsingtaos would see us right. Pork paired with something sweet always creates a pleasurable experience, maple syrup and bacon being a killer combo, presently you can even get bacon bits in your chocolate bars. A sweet swine yearning, balanced by  the dmz drawn neutral line of carb fixers- rice n’ noodles. The tradition of sharing food goes way back and there is a common bond in breaking bread with the people close to you – so to the present day and a new riff on past sentiments.

Catfish, always playing on my mind and hard to get in London. Whereas in the States there seems to be a truck load of it, especially with the ‘southern fix’ that everyone is having right now. Plentiful in Vietnam, this fish gave rise to the idea of combining the caramelised technique used for the pork and stamping it with a few Mexican identifiers. No, I am not Mexican myself, but it is my go to style of cooking, one that I most look at for inspiration. The caramel made from scratch, includes fish sauce to really bring out the fishy flavours, and slightly sour up the sweetness of the sweet and sticky concoction. Catfish is a soft sucker, that still holds together under much cooking, so for bite, sliced fennel hit the fish with anise kisses and made the taco satisfyingly crunchy. An over the top sauce of roasted tomatoes, habaneros , tangerine rind, and crema blanketed this creation in smooth, rich, sweet heat. Coriander spun it herbal and that, was taco night.

Food experienced years ago, carried on in a slightly different form, but sharing the common thread of friendship and ritual. Oh, and if you look in the background, there is some messed up malt liquor with two pigs slapping their bellies. One word – awesome.


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Categories: Mexican, New York, Travel


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