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Bastardized foods that you love

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  • anzu Jul 12, 2008 12:10 AM
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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. http://www.momoya.co.jp/products/deta...

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: http://www.aso.ne.jp/~nakamura/sab/sh... 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). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okara_(f...

      And some recipes. http://www.ellenskitchen.com/clearlig... (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.

                          http://images.google.com/images?um=1&...

                          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...

                    2. Chicken or even better veal parmigiana, not at all Italian, although perhaps some people might think it is, but I love it, none the less.

                      1. In the United States we have gyros, invented by Chris and Bill Liakouros, the owners of The Parthenon Restaurant on Halsted Street in Chicago. No Greek has ever heard of this dish, but it is tasty, especially if you can get it the way it is served at The Parthenon: a gas jet flame is played over a spit of lamb, pork, and beef, combined with Greek spices. The meat, to a depth of a few inches, carmelizes and becomes crispy. Only the crispy, carmelized part is cut off with a long, serrated knife. Shreds of raw onion are sprinkled on top and a sauce made of yogurt, mint, and garlic is served on the side. (The pita bread sandwich version was a much later addition, created by Philistines.)

                        Avoid the gyros sold in many places that are like tough, warmed-over meat loaf, with no crispyness at all. Try the original and you'll be a convert.

                        1. chicken parmigiana
                          "shrimp scampi"
                          old el paso tacos with ground beef and packaged seasoning
                          general tso chicken
                          duck sauce!

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: vvvindaloo

                            I second the general tao. Some places try to get away with chicken in soggy batter and sugar sauce, but it is so good when the chicken is crispy and the sauce flavorful! I know it is not near being chinese (and was here ever such a general??), but i enjoy it anyway!

                            1. re: alixium

                              I remember reading an article about General Tso's chicken in the newspaper and apparently such a general exists (though really, the chances of a Chinese general with the last name of Tso in the past is pretty good), though obviously the dish doesn't (in the town where the supposed general lived).

                              Personally, I have this strange addiction towards westernized spring rolls/egg rolls... I don't know what I like about them (beyond them being fried) but I really can't stop hoovering them down if they were put in front of me.

                              1. re: Blueicus

                                The General:

                                http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/04/mag...

                          2. I love California rolls. There. I said it. If the ingredients are fresh and of high quality, it's a great dish. While we're addressing non-authentic sushi, I like Philadelphia rolls too, as well as the Hawaiian musubi, and many of the fried (tempura) dishes, which are much more popular (I hear) outside of Japan. Funny thing is, today a good portion of the Japanese people enjoy these non-authentic dishes more than the traditional, which doesn't surprise me. Completely taking westernization out of the equation, the dishes are just damn good. It is funny however, that we (as Americans) can show our individuality and "worldliness" or multiculturalism to others by eating Japanese foods like sushi, and the Japanese people show the same thing by having American (or other than traditional Japanese) foods. I just love the food cultures that we have as a people. It just gives such color to life to know that there are endless posibilities out there as far as food is concerned. That reminds me, I have something new I've been meaning to try...

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: madgreek

                              Mmmm...Philadelphia rolls. The first time I had them, I thought I went to heaven. Anything that you can work cream cheese into is worth trying in my book. Now if only I can get out of that shrimp with "lobster" sauce phase that I've been in since I was a kid....

                              1. re: gloriousfood

                                A friend of mine who once taught Cantonese cooking classes back in the 70's once told me that the "lobster" in the lobster sauce meant that it was the same sauce served with Lobster Cantonese. As we all know, there is no lobster in shrimp with lobster sauce.

                              2. re: madgreek

                                "Bastardized" sushi is a major weakness of mine. There's a place near where I live that does an 'Italian roll' with salmon, tomatoes, and basil. Hmmmmm.

                                1. re: madgreek

                                  Wait. California rolls are bastardized!?!? I happen to think they are legitimate sushi! :)
                                  Seriously, though, I love the combo of avocado and crab (though I prefer mine w/o mayo). One of my Japanese friends told me that if you close your eyes and eat avocado dabbed w/ a bit of soy sauce, it tastes like tuna. I haven't tried it myself, but she swears by it.

                                  Actually, when I do temaki parties, I now offer avocado as one of the fillers.

                                2. Corned beef and cabbage makes the list. No, it's not Irish - the Irish equivalent would be made with some form of pork, like fat back. The use of corned beef is purely Irish-American.

                                  This particular fusion dish most likely arose when Irish immigrants saw their Jewish neighbors making use of this then-inexpensive cut of meat and adapted it to their own cuisine.

                                  1. I think you mean Chosen-Ame (朝鮮飴), which refers to North Korean candy in Japanese. Chosen is the word for North Korea (and Kankoku (韓国) is the word for South Korea). So perhaps it is possible that this is a bastardized version of a candy from North Korea. Were any of your friends north Korean? It's likely that while your friends might not be familiar with that kind of candy, but their parents or grandparents might be. Just a thought.

                                    While there are many variations on "bastardized" foods, I wonder just how much of it is "bastardized" and how much of it is simply a result of cross-pollenization. Japanese-Korean or Japanese-Chinese foods have developed over several centuries of influence, unlike the dishes we've seen mentioned in this thread, such as corned beef and cabbage, spaghetti with meatballs, chicken parmesan, or the california roll, etc.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: E Eto

                                      No. Mostly South Korean, though some of them are zainichi so parents in Japan before Korea split. Someone explained to me once the reason why "Chosen" is in the name of these very Japanese (and only Southern Japan to boot! Many people in Tokyo have never heard of these) candies, but I forgot.

                                      The cross-pollenization point you bring up is interesting. Though in the case of kimchi fried rice, I feel like that's gained popularity in Japan in the past 10 or 15 years. I see it as a much more common menu item at restaurants. My grandparents never served/ate it, and even my parents have only recently (last 5-10 years) started making that.I'd guess that it's a fairly recent import.

                                      1. re: anzu

                                        I should amend what i said earlier. Cho-sen (derived from the Korean cho-sun) is actually the term for the the unified Korea (not just north), but it seems to have stuck to the post-war North Korea. I believe "cho-sen" reflects the old usage of the word for the Korean peninsula in the long history between Korea and Japan. It seems likely that cho-sen-ame came to Japan prior to its colonial episode in the early 20th century.

                                        A friend from Shizuoka prefecture was telling me about cho-sen-ame not too long ago (my introduction to it). When I search the internet, it does appear to be a specialty of Kumamoto prefecture (in Kyushu), but I think there are other parts of Japan where it is popular. It's made with glutinous rice (mochi-gome), sugar, and mizu-ame (I'm not sure what it would be called in English, but here's a Wikipedia description of it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mizuame ).

                                        And here are some websites with photos for other to see.

                                        http://www.shingetudou.co.jp/kodawari...
                                        http://shop.yumetenpo.jp/goods/d/shin...
                                        http://www.higokanmi.com/area/kumamot...

                                        As for bastardized versions of food, my mother used to make a mild version of what she called kimchee (kimuchi) when I was a kid. It was pretty much tsukemono made with napa cabbage with a bunch of togarashi chiles thrown in. This was in the 60s in LA, so she must have picked it up somewhere in Japan before that. Having this as a child was a good introduction to real Korean food, since we had easy access living just outside of Koreatown. After a while, I think she just stopped making that and we just bought kimchee in Koreatown (perhaps out of laziness or convenience).

                                    2. Kimchi bokeumbap means kimchi fried rice in Korea, and it's at most low-cost restaurants here. Sometimes pork or tuna is added, along with cabbage, egg and other spices.

                                      1. Chow mein, goolash, sheperd's pie and gringo tacos in Maine. All made w/ "hamberg"."Hamberg" on pizza too. Pizza too for that matter. Originally Phoenician?

                                        1. My ex's (who was part Irish) shepherd's pie made with ground turkey, peas, cheddar cheese, kidney beans, chili powder, curry powder, corn, carrots and onions topped with mashed potatoes. The same mixture went great with cornmeal as well. I brought this in to work one day when my Haitian friend said it was very similar to a Haitian dish.

                                          Last week I wrapped up stir-fried snow pea shoots in a lahmajun and ate it. Delicious!

                                          1. im sorry but that link for chosen ame doesn't work. I have never ever heard of it and would love to see what it looks like. Everytime I do a search for it some manga comes up.

                                            does that japanese kimchi base taste anything like korean kimchi? I bet it would be good tossed with some udon noodles

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: bitsubeats

                                              http://www.aso.ne.jp/~nakamura/sab/sh...

                                              Does that work better? (If not, take the link above, and delete everything after html (the extraneous parenthesis and all the text that follows) and that should work.

                                              )

                                              I actually find most Korean kimchi on its own a tad too spicy, so I end up eating it with other stuff, so I can't say. This particular jar, though is only mildly spicy (hence the "bastardization" part.) If you read Japanese and read the first few ingredients, it's veggies, apple, mandarin orange, ginger, garlic, sugar, some kind of syrup, fish extract, and *then* (finally) chili. But it is one incredibly handy jar.

                                              In fact, I just noticed that if you click on the purple, it lists even *more* things I can do with this jar.
                                              http://www.momoya.co.jp/recipe/index....
                                              Sam, here's a photo of the tofu soup I mentioned earlier:
                                              http://www.momoya.co.jp/recipe/index....

                                              1. re: anzu

                                                That's not kimchi, that's maramalade. But I suppose that's the point.

                                            2. Have to mention my personal favorite comfort food, Chicken Tikka Masala. Definately not authentic indian food (does it qualify as authentic british food, though, at this point?)

                                              further bastardized by the fact that we usually only make the CTM sauce without any actual chicken tikka , and use it on...everything we can get our hands on =)
                                              CTM burger..CTM microwave risotto..mmm

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Jeters

                                                the ctm's ancestor is the wondrous and quite authentic murgh makhani ("butter chicken") (which you probably know). like you, i can eat the ctm sauce on anything.....even just on roti or paratha alone, and i am happy!

                                              2. I guess Hong Kong cuisine is one long list of bastardizations. I like the baked rice dishes.