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Jul 12, 2008 12:10 AM

Bastardized foods that you love

Ok, Koreans, please don't be apalled. :) The query on sushi pizza coinciding with my copious consumption of bastardized food these past 2 weeks inspired me to post this.

I bought this "Kimuchi no moto" ("Kimchi base") in Japan, after trying some at my cousin's place. It comes in a bottle like this.

Now, before I continue, I should say that I think Japan is one of the heartlands of "bastardized" (or Japanized versions of the original) food. So as a result, I end up eating a lot of things I think are "Chinese" or "Korean", only to discover that such a dish doesn't exist in China or Korea. (e.g. My favorite example is these candies called "Chosun ame" (Korean candy; pics: are a specialty of Southern Japan. I spent the bulk of grade school actually believing they were Korean, and foolishly tried to convince my Korean friends that these candies are Korean. Ha!


Back to my beloved "Kimuchi no moto". I know it's not Korean by any stretch of the imagination, but it is incredibly handy. (It also caters to our wimpier taste buds, so is not as spicy.) Thus far, I have added it to octopus to make "kimchi-flavored octopus". (Cousin's concoction) I have added it to broth and added tofu and dubbed it "Korean tofu soup". Of course, I have also added it to rice and made "kimchi fried rice" and "Korean-flavored omu-rice". Finally, I have used it as a base for a lazy version of "kimchi nabe" as well.

Granted, the first two are just improvisations, and the kimchi nabe is probably a Japanized, less spicy version of chigae, but does kimchi fried rice exist in Korea? I only seem to find this on Korean restaurant menus in Japan. I hope it does, b/c some 120 million people in Japan eat it thinking it is Korean food. :)

My second bastardized favorite is upma (Indian savory cream of wheat) made with okara (a tofu byproduct that is loaded with protein and fiber).

Do others have non-authentic, bastardized versions of food that they like?

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  1. A lot of Indian-Chinese dishes, e.g. Manchurian this-that-the other; chilli paneer; etc. Often they can be greasy and annoying but when well done they are addictive like crack. I love them......

    The okara upma sounds interesting. I have never cooked with okara, though we love tofu. What is the texture/appearance of okara like?

    1 Reply
    1. re: Rasam

      They look like large grain granules, but sticky, so you'd have to toast it. It also absorbs a lot of water. Here is a wiki entry (w/ a few photos).

      And some recipes. (no pics.


      I'm still working on experimenting with it. Unfortunately, I think here, it gets tossed a lot after making tofu/soymilk, etc. It is highly perishable, but it also freezes well.

    2. Here in the states we have lots of food that we think of as "Italian" or "Mexican" or "Chinese" that a native of those countries would not recognize. Many years ago I had the pleasure to host the winemakers from Gaja at John Ash in Santa Rosa, which at the time at a Cal-Ital flavor. The previous evening they had eaten at Tra Vigne. Making conversation (it was pretty hard, they spoke no English, I speak no Italian. After strained silences while their translator, who was exhausted, tried to keep a conversation going, we discovered that if I spoke French, and they spoke Italian/French, we could communicate quite nicely) I asked them how they were enjoying all the "Italian" food they were eating in CA. I'll never forget the puzzled look on their faces, they had never associated any of the food they had been eating as "Italian", they thought it was "Californian". And of course, they were right!

      Back on topic, I love my mother's "tacos" (she is a native Californian, of Irish background). She started making them in the sixties, and I am completely addicted to them, although no Mexican would recognize them as tacos. She only makes them when she has tomatoes from her own garden. She fries corn tortillas flat (she got tired of fussing with folding them over), makes a thick meat sauce from hamburger, a small amount of chili powder (think Gebharts) and tomato paste. At the table, we each assemble a "taco": base of fried tortilla, smear of meat sauce, shredded iceberg lettuce, shredded "Cheddar" cheese (not too sharp), loads of diced tomatoes (mmm), some sliced green onions, and La Victoria Taco Sauce (has to be La Victoria). Try to convey to mouth without spilling everything all over your shirt, give up and use a fork and knife. I am transported back to warm summer evenings at my mother's table. Now that I have traveled in Mexico and eaten much more authentic fare I know that this is not Mexican food, but I still love it.

      7 Replies
      1. re: dkenworthy

        That is exactly, and I mean exactly, the kind of taco I grew up eating. My mom is also native Californian, of Irish background. In recent years she's switched to fish, because my dad no longer eats red meat.

        1. re: Glencora

          Me too on the tacos. Exactly. I still do it this way, except now I leave the tomato base out and just either use hamburger, chicken, or shredded beef/pork with some spicy chilies, hot sauce, or red pepper flakes. I like the meat taste without the tomato taste, just the spice and heat. La Victoria is also used. How funny. Three people the exact same way, right down to the assembly and garnishments. Wow.

          I also have to say, I like the fried tortilla much better than the softer type traditional taco shell. I like the crunch, and don't really care if its traditional or authentic, its a textural thing for me. Many a shirt has been ruined from the drippings.

          1. re: JackieChiles

            mrbuffer turned me onto his style of tacos - ground turkey browned, combined with salsa and shredded cheddar in a yellow corn tortilla warmed in the oven. yum...and in mexico i know they don't use ground turkey...

            1. re: mrsbuffer

              I've only been to TJ since it's close to San Diego, but I would think you're right, probably no turkey there! However, my Dad did the oven thing with his tortillas and they were great. I just like the not-so-hard, but not-so soft-crunch by frying. It is what a taco should be, no matter what you put in it, and that is only in my opinion of course. Mexican food, authentic or otherwise, is my least favorite type of food, so my opinion probably doesn't count.

          2. re: Glencora

            Me three on these tacos! only we used the yellow hard taco shell from the store.

          3. re: dkenworthy

            Ah yes, spaghetti and meatballs (mixed together on the same plate). Lasagna with two tons of cheese and one ton of hamburger meat. Pizza topped with everything available in the fridge. Hamburgers topped with kimchi ...

            1. re: dkenworthy

              I've had exactly the same situation with Italians at wine tastings. My Italian is very, very limited, so ... thank god for French!

            2. The first time time I had Kimchi fried rice was in Korea, back in 1978 or so, so yes it does exist in Korea.
              Many of the Japanese "Korean" foods really are based on actual Korean dishes/items.
              Over the years a large number of Koreans were transplanted to Japan, and they did the same thing as Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Irish, Italian, and (name ethnicity here) have done when immigrating to any other country - they adapted to the local scene.
              You should see (and taste) some of the Korean "Japanese" foods.

              1. Stuffed and steamed cannelloni in place of momos, pita bread pizzas, use of spagetti noodles in place of buckwheat to make cold soba, AND, next week, "Korean tofu soup"! I have an exact same jar of kimche no moto in the ref that I didn't know what to do with.

                8 Replies
                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Isn't Turkish pide basically pita bread pizza? Love that stuff.

                  1. re: tatamagouche

                    I don't know what Turkish Pride is (?).

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      No "R", but if I made a tasty one, I'd be proud of it!

                      I think it's basically a Turkish style pizza, with a different shape (more like a long elipse, rather than round like a pizza).

                      1. re: nofunlatte

                        Great! I can invite people over for Turkish pide (got it this time, sorry) and give em the old pizza pita. Brilliant.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          Some images here (you may have to cut and paste the link since I'm not sure it's going to work broken up between two different lines). Good stuff. I think it's also sometimes called lahmajun, or maybe those are slightly (but not very) different things.


                          1. re: tatamagouche

                            Mmmmmm.... those look delicious! Thank you, tat!

                            Jungmann, please take a look at tatamagouche's link!! What do you think?

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              Spiced lamb and parsley?? That's certainly a step above (turkey) ham and Hunt's! If the bread is crispy like lahmajoun, that's a pita I could gladly chow down.

                  2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Before halal pizza was commercially available in the US, my father would "treat" us to his version of pizza made with pita bread, a can of plain tomato sauce, American cheese and some sort of lunch meat (usually sliced hot dogs). I'm certain yours are much better, but after years of subjection, I can't help but shudder whenever I come across the pita pizza.

                  3. Mee goreng - Stir fried noodles (basically a Chinese contribution to the dish), made by Indians and given a Malay name.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: limster

                      Except that my Chinese friends in Singapore, Limster, told me that "mee" means "noodles" in some Chinese dialect (Teochew?). The "goreng" sounds Malay to me--certainly not Chinese or Indian. But my Chinese friends were the ones who made the dish all the time. And now I learn that the Indians were involved, too! Singapore is a great place and unraveling the origins of its food is like trying to solve a Chinese puzzle.

                      1. re: gfr1111

                        "Mee" is from Hokkien (minnan to the mainlanders) but has been adopted as part of the Malay vernacular (just like the Hokkien term "low ti" means bread, having taken from the Indian "roti"); "goreng" is Malay for frying, including stir-frying, deep frying etc...