Tuesday, February 04, 2014


Why pay W13,000 ($11.81) for a smallish plate of tangsuyuk (Korea's answer to sweet-and-sour pork) from a so-so Korean-style Chinese restaurant when you can buy a bag of frozen, pre-made tangsuyuk for W4000 ($3.64), a can of pineapples for W2900 ($2.63), and a bag of cornstarch for W800 ($0.73)? That's $7.00 versus $12.00!

I don't have the means to deep-fry anything (and that's a huge waste of oil besides), so I pan-fry. This evening, I cut up the pineapples, put the juice in a pot, mixed a dollop of cornstarch with some water and kept it at the ready, fried up the breaded pork, drained it on some paper towels, boiled the pineapple juice, tossed in the pineapples and the cornstarch mixture (along with some chili flakes), and made a sauce. The results are below:

I don't normally like to slather the sauce all over my tangsuyuk; it gets soggy. Normally, I keep the sauce in a bowl on the side and dip the crunchy pieces in it, one by one. That's probably what I'll do next time. Korean restaurants normally put other things in their sauce: carrots, peas (large, hard ones), onions (blech), and frilly mushrooms that remind me of those sea slugs that look like living feather boas. Next time around, I might add everything but the damn onions. God, I hate onions.

Chinese fast-food sauces are among the grossest sauces on the planet, but also among the easiest to make. In my case, I keep it simple: pork pairs nicely with sweet, fruity flavors like apple and pineapple, so I just boil pineapple juice and add a heaping spoonful of cornstarch as a thickener, plus a flat spoonful of Korean chili flakes. Chinese restaurants here add way too much cornstarch to their sauces: once the sauces cool, they congeal into horrifying, gelatinous masses with a truly disgusting mouth-feel. Too much starchy thickener, and your sauce is well on its way to becoming bread.

I also learned, this evening, that the entire W4000 bag of tangsuyuk is way more than enough: I could easily divide it into two servings. So the above-quoted price of $7.00 could actually be halved to $3.50 and it'd still be a filling meal.

Slight quasi-digression: the grocery where I bought the tangsuyuk has an amazingly cheap freezer section, and also sells Western pasta at Western prices. Some of the freezer items are astounding: I saw a huge pack of US-style hot dogs for W5000 (half of what it'd cost at Costco); there was a whole, filleted salmon for W18,500 (easily Costco scale); there were bags filled with two or three pounds of huge, frozen cubes of daegu (i.e., cod) on sale for W4000 per bag. So I take back what I wrote in response to a recent comment by Sperwer: I can afford to eat real proteins and avoid much of the processed stuff. Chicken, alas, was more expensive: a large bag of frozen chicken breasts, such as might be found at Food Lion, was going for W14,500. That's a bit steep. But frozen veggies and strawberries were in abundance. I really need to take advantage of these deals in future.


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