Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sweet and sour two ways

If you know me, you know I'm always talking about food. Never mind the fact that it's thundering and pouring outside (again!) and I've just snacked on a big bowl of bean soup, I'm about to start talking about a Korean-Chinese dinner we had in a busy expat suburb one weekend.

As is usual with Korean meals, first to arrive at the table are the side dishes meant to accompany the main meal. Here we got only 3 (instead of the usual 6-8) side dishes - kimchi (square bowl on upper right) - or fermented napa cabbage, a staple of Korean cuisine; yellow pickled daikon (blue flower plate) and pink radish kimchi - a fermented radish side dish. Kimchi and yellow pickled radish are common side dishes but not the radish kimchi.

We ordered sweet and sour chicken which is essentially boneless deep-fried chicken that came on a bed of lettuce topped with onions, peppers, sweet and sour sauce and sesame seeds.

I'm not sure why we ordered two sweet and sour dishes which are very similar in taste but yeah! So here's the other plate piled high with crispy deep-fried pork topped with bokchoy, onions, carrots and sweet and sour sauce, and (surprise!) a side of finely shredded cabbage with thousand island dressing.
These are huge servings meant to be shared and eaten with rice or as an accompaniment to alcoholic drinks, a common Korean practice. We, however, chose to savor them on their own sans rice or alcohol. Of the two sweet and sour dishes, I prefer the crispier pork and the shredded cabbage which was reminiscent of how it's often served with tonkatsu, or deep-fried breaded pork cutlet, at Japanese restaurants.

To round off the meal, we ordered jjampong, a seafood noodle soup featuring large shrimps, squid and mussels. There might've been fish slices in it as well, I'm not sure. As portions go, this is big and meant to be a serving for one person. But we asked for small bowls to portion this out. I like that the soup is spicy but I would've preferred it to have tasted (and smelled), um, a little less fishy.
It's interesting to see the similarities and overlaps in these orders of ours. First off, you have the Korean adaptation of the sweet and sour meat which is a big part of Chinese cuisine. And then you have the sweet and sour pork adapted from the Japanese tonkatsu complete with shredded cabbage. And then you have the seafood noodle soup inspired once again by the countless varieties and flavors of Chinese noodle soups. Well, I love Korean food and Japanese food. So this does it for me lol!