Korean food

Innovation or Aberration? – Unpeeling the Costco Onion Salad

My latest piece over at Sweet Pickles an Corn: on the odd practice of eating condiment onions as a side dish, and the odder habit of freaking out about it.

SWEET PICKLES & CORN

By John Bocskay

Any American or Canadian who has been to a Costco in Korea has witnessed what Koreans do with the onions. In the U.S. you turn the crank on the dispenser and catch the tumbling onions on the hot dog, the whole hot dog, and nothing but the hot dog, but that’s not how the Koreans roll. Most of them pile the onions on a dish or a patch of foil, dump globs of ketchup and mustard over them, mix it all into a lumpy orangey mash, and tuck straight into it with fork and spoon as an improvised side dish to their pizza, clam chowder, or Caesar salad.

Expat critics react with a mix of condescension, bemusement, derision, and disgust. Didn’t Koreans get salad_downloadthe memo? Onions are supposed to go on the hot dogs! And look how many onions they’re piling on! Have they no shame?

Among the many unfair and…

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The Good, The Bad, and The Hagfish

The hagfish has been called the nastiest and most disgusting creature in the sea. In South Korea, it’s called dinner. Check it out:

SWEET PICKLES & CORN

by John Bocskay


Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly lives in mud 150 meters under the sea.
I ’ve always loved the Korean word for fish: “mulgogi”, a compound formed from the words “water” ( mul ) and “meat” ( gogi ). More than simply labeling a common class of aquatic creatures, “mulgogi” suggests a way of looking at the world, a very East Asian orientation that assumes all things that swim to be edible unless proven otherwise.

Much of Korean seafood strikes the average Westerner as very different, and some of it as downright bizarre: fermented skate, with its powerful ammonia smell; sea cucumbers, whose similarity to an actual cucumber begins and ends with its oblong shape; and live octopus, which is both alive and an octopus. The list goes on, but perhaps no other creature better exemplifies the Korean commitment to sampling the totality of the world’s sea…

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