Cooking is in David Lee’s blood and he has set up a ‘street food’ cart in Killough village to supply a wide range of Asian dishes.
Born in Belfast into a Chinese family but now living in Killough, David Lee grew up steeped in the oriental culinary arts. His parents and family were involved in the food and restaurant business, and after trying out different jobs and a spell working in Los Angeles, David is now concentrating on getting his oriental food cart up and running.
“I’ve been open about ten weeks now and everything is going great. I called the business ‘Fired’ as I cook quite a bit of hot and spicy food. There are many styles of cookery in China and across Asia there are many more, such as from Japan, Taiwan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam etc. So I’m bringing this mixed street food experience to Killough and the wider area.
“My family is originally from Hong Kong but I was born here. I keep in regular contact with them still. They have been very well connected in the food trade. I learned a great deal from my parents. Interestingly, in Hong Kong, there are strong Korean influences in street food. This goes back centuries through links between the cultures. The recent links between Hong Kong and Korea too are a result of the popularity of K-Pop and Korean TV shows which help create this wider interest in Asian food.”
David explained that he cooks his food fresh to order. His main items of equipment are the wok and a deep frier, And he uses a Taiyaki machine for making waffles. “You can put any filling in a waffle but here I use it for the local speciality, waffles with Nuttella!” said David. “Usually in China you would put in Lotus or red bean paste as a filling for example.
“I do have to pre-prepare much of the vegetables. And one of the dumplings I cook is gyozas which can be boiled or deep fried or steamed.
“Basically the cart is modular so I can vary the equipment depending of what the menu is set at. I have a stall at the Downpatrick artisan market too and it is going well.
“I even have people coming from Belfast, Downpatrick, and further afield to taste my food. It’s been quite busy to date. I change the menu each week.
“In terms of influences I should say my father is from the Hakka cultural group and he tends to focus on land based produce, while my mother is from a Hokkien background and is more involved in seafood. So I grew up with this dual cookery experience.
“The street food I grew up with consisted of carbohydrates such as noodles, rice and chips with fish, chicken or pork. I use a range of sauces such as Hoisin or chilli sauce or yogurt and mint. I make sure that the flavourings are a key part of the dish and the taste is authentic.
“I enhance the flavours in a number of ways with herbs such as coriander that are aromatic so the dishes are distinctive.”
Check out the ‘Fired’ food cart on Facebook at:
This week David said he was preparing dimsums, a type of dumpling. They are filled with with a range of fillings… it’s a bit like the idea of Spanish tapas. This week there will be pork suiami dumplings which are made with water chestnuts and shittake mushrooms encased in a yellow egg pastry wrap. But such is the variation of Oriental cuisine that David explained there is a huge amount to chose from and this requires a lot of research and planning each week to ensure the customers are getting an enjoyable food cart experience.
David explained: “There is always plenty of work to do even when I am closed. I have to check where I can source the ingredients locally which takes time. I love experimentation and really enjoy this sort of work. I’m at home in my street food cart. And the food cart have received a five star hygiene certificate too.
“I take the day off on Sunday, but that could change if demand increases.
Opening hours from June onwards for the Killough ‘Fired’ Food Cart are:
Friday and Saturday: 11-7pm.