- small budget
- fast food / sandwich shop
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Considering all the concepts for street-food available, whether they are my own propositions or others, I can’t help noticing that seafood is hardly present at all. Yet, we are told we should eat fish and seafood at least three times a week.
It’s true that a lot of people don’t like fish and concepts selling fish in batter, deep fried, really only work in the U.K. and in Spain. So we need to invent new ways of consuming seafood. The concept I’m about to propose to you will allow you to create a real street-food restaurant in which you’ll sell seafood in the most attractive and economical way possible. You will make money from the same market niche as sandwiches, kebabs and fast-food. Some of your food will be seen as a healthy option and will give consumers the chance to vary their diet.
When research is carried out on the food-stuffs of the future, not only are the products themselves closely examined but also how they will evolve technically and economically. Let me give you an example.
About 50 years ago chicken was almost a luxury food because it was still farm-reared and distributed directly from there. Nowadays the chain of production has radically changed and chicken has become a basic part of our diet.
We can buy it whole, in pieces, breaded, seasoned, fresh or frozen, a fast-food chain is even devoted to it! These chickens are a long way from the farmyard birds of old!
In this concept we’re going to use a product which has evolved in exactly the same way but which has held on to a more up market or glamorous image than the chicken: shrimps!
No, I’m not crazy and I’m going to show you just how pertinent this concept is. Not so long ago shrimp was an item of luxury, fished in the traditional way. It’s a very nutritious food and, like most seafood, it’s low in fact.
During the 1970s the F.A.O. (Food and Agriculture Organization) of the United Nations, one of whose aims are to fight against world famine, turned its attention to shrimp. In a report it showed evidence (rapid growth and reproduction rate plus the high protein content) that shrimp would become one of the main foods throughout the world. They advised farming shrimp rather than fishing it. For the record, these experts even recommended building factories next to shrimp farms in warm climates, where shrimp would be transformed into tinned pate, the advantage of such pate being that it’s cheap, it’s easy to keep and could be used wherever there are food shortages!
Shrimp farming has, as a result, been considerably developed. We farm more and more each year; we have reached 2 million tonnes a year.
It is farmed on all the tropical coasts of the world. From the point of view of taste it’s true that this shrimp is nowhere near our cold water varieties and you’ve been lucky enough to taste a Chausey prawn or a Sanlucar de Barrameda you’ll know that the difference is flagrant.
But at least this tropically formed shrimp has become an affordable product, cheap enough to become street-food, as already seen in Asia or in Spain.
Another advantage of this type of shrimp is its neutral taste which lends itself to all sorts of culinary preparations and seasonings, almost all methods of cooking are possible and it can be eaten hot or cold. What’s more, it cooks very quickly! Almost no other food has so much going for it!
Besides, it is cooked in a thousand and one different ways all over the world and that will give us inspiration when compiling a menu of very enticing street-food.
Let’s talk a little about your future customers. Although many people don’t like fish, shrimp has a much wider appeal. I’ve often noticed that a lot of people restrict their intake of seafood to mussels, shrimp and smoked salmon. In fact, the majority of people like shrimp, even children. I’m sure there as many people who like shrimp as there are who like kebabs or hamburgers. So, shrimp definitely has its rightful place as the basis for a street-food concept. Incidentally I’ve also noticed that women are often very fond of shrimp.
A Street-food concept is by definition an urban concept. You’ll set up business in a town of at least 100,000 inhabitants either in the town centre or in a busy shopping area. In order to succeed you’ll need two vectors of customers: lots of offices and lots of shops. You’ll know if you’re in the right place if there are other street-food businesses in the area. You don’t need to choose a prime location; it would certainly be beyond your means. Look for a premise in roughly the same area as your competitors.
If there’s one thing I particularly dislike in today’s urban concepts it is those pseudo-healthy sandwich bars with fridges full of yoghurts, smoothies, insipid salads and fruit salads sold at exorbitant prices to their designated target: mainly women.
The first of these places was innovative but now there are dozens of chains all over the world and I must say I find the concept is already jaded and lacking in imagination. You know from reading my concepts that I wage a personal war against uniformity and lack of imagination. So? If you see one or two of these sandwich bars in the area, you have found the ideal spot!
As for kitchen equipment, it will be a lot cheaper to buy it second-hand. You’ll need fridges and freezers, a refrigerated display unit, two deep-fat fryers, a salamander and a plancha grill. If you have room for stand-up eating on the premises, all the better.
It’s entirely up to you how to decorate the premises. For once, I would encourage you to go kitsch- why not have a giant shrimp on your sign above the door? Or you could hire a talented artist to paint a mural to the glory of our favorite crustacean!
Now for the most important part: the menu. One of the main strengths of this concept is that you’ll find all the shrimp you need frozen at specialized suppliers. Keep a constant eye on process at either your local supermarket or Chinese shop; it’s always good to compare. You’re going to sell your shrimp in many different ways.
-4 sorts of grilled skewers: tandoori, plain salted, satay and Provencal (with herbs but go easy on the garlic). Serve your skewers with fries in kebab-type containers, or in a sandwich with, obviously, the skewers removed. In addition to fries you could serve salad and why not rice if you can get hold of a rice-cooker. Satay and tandoori marinades can be bought ready to use but I have yet to find a good ready-made raïta sauce to accompany the tandoori shrimp, however it’s not difficult to make.
-here are some ideas for sandwiches using peeled prawns, but feel free to invent your own ideas. First of all, a traditional buttered baguette sandwich filled with just parsley and shrimp which you could perhaps call the Atlantic or the Breton.
There’s an absolutely delicious sandwich with diced tomato, mayonnaise, parsley, grey shrimp or coldwater shrimp, inspired by a recipe originating in the Belgian town of Ostend.
I would also suggest a Mexican wrap, a tortilla filled with guacamole, fresh coriander, lettuce, diced tomato and shrimp. You could make an Italian style sandwich on ciabatta bread: shrimp with tomato, basil, black olives and rocket.
-create two or three original salads using shrimp, perhaps one inspired by the Ostend recipe above and another inspired by Italy.
-finally, two sorts of fried shrimp: for the first sort, simply dredge the shrimp in seasoned flour before frying. For the second, dip the shrimp in batter before frying. Prepare a batter using a recipe like the traditional English fish’n’chips.
All your deep-fried shrimp will be served in punnets with either fries, salad or rice.
Supply all the usual sauces, not forgetting Tartare sauce.
For beverages and desserts simply copy the range on offer in those sandwich bars I spoke about earlier, although it would be a good idea to stock small screw-top bottles of white and rosé wine.
Give some thought to your selection of desserts. Your clientele will possibly be mainly feminine and will therefore like to end on a sweet note!
As for advertising, make do with flyers printed in just one or two colors to keep costs down. Deliver them to all the shops and businesses in the area. Slip them under windshield wipers in all the car parks around. Your shop front and word of mouth will do the rest.
So thanks to you shrimp is going to make a triumphant entry onto the street food scene. I hope many of you will be tempted by this concept, the idea is original to say the least. I’m convinced it’s an idea that will work and I hope I have convinced you too.
One thing for sure, your customers won’t need much convincing to come eat your delicious shrimp!