Many people know about my distaste for “creative” sushi – an overly muscular behemoth of rice bristling with decidedly non-Japanese sushi ingredients like steak, cream cheese, tomatoes, and jalapenos with names like Crunchy Cowboy, Godzilla, and Firecracker Fantasy that sound more appropriate for an aquarian battle of American Gladiators than a sushi menu.
It is, quite frankly, just the faintest glimmer of what is a blinding hatred for all things Asian fusion. Maybe hatred is a strong word. If so, then I meant abhorrence. I have no hard evidence of from where it stems, but I have my theories. It probably has to do with the fact that I myself, am a product of Asian fusion – Korean girl by heritage, born into an American society, faced with competing, clashing cultures. Is it Korean? Or is it American? Is it Japanese sushi? Or is it just I-don’t-know-what-the-right-word-is-here?
I realize that in many respects, this cultural fusion is a thing of beauty, and it is how food and cultural cuisines evolve. It has taken me a long time to appreciate it. Even now, I can’t say that I fully appreciate it. I think it’s more like I have accepted it because my tastebuds have been beaten into the ground with sesame crusted everything with wasabi-scented smashed potatoes and soy ginger miso squirted out of ketchup bottle into a fancy paisley on the edge of my plate. Really, I don’t hate it. I can’t, because I have been known to conjure such cross-cultural cuisine-blurring things as pita-chos.
But let’s put aside for a moment my negative feelings about Asian fusion, and look instead, at adoption. I have noticed that in addition to this delicious cassoulet called fusion wherein we take ingredients from here, techniques from there, and presentation style from way over there so that every dish on the table has a Chinese five-spice blend of French and Japanese, there is something more along the lines of a grand global Epcot Center buffet called adoption. It’s taking some food and just straight up putting it on your cultural table, and yet it still maintains its cultural integrity. If we look at it from a Brangelina perspective (obviously, I’ve already made my point, but I can’t help but succumb to all the Hollywood media propaganda), the as-of-yet unborn baby inside Angelina is a fusion of whatever ethnicity Pitt is, and Jolie (which, for the ease of argument, I will say is French). However, little adopted Maddox is very seamlessly integrated into the Jolie-Pitt family, but he is, no doubt, ethnically Cambodian. Wow, that was too perfect, now wasn't it?
There are many examples of all of this. For instance, Japanese folks serving curry over spaghetti noodles is fusion. Their offering spaghetti and meatballs on a menu alongside tonkatsu is adoption. Their putting a slice of American cheese on ramen is just gross. But I won’t get into that. And in the Korean world, I have seen no better adoption than serving all-American potato salad in a tiny dish as bahn-chan right along with galbee. I have no idea when or how it started. It probably has the same history as Spam, but again, I just can’t get started on that.
I wrote about how our family served potato salad at a barbecue baby shower we had in honor of my sister, brother-in-law, and then-still-marinating baby niece last fall. The potato salad was, um, how can I be at once descriptive and brief about this? Delicious. More than a few people have asked for the recipe (including you, Maure!), so I am posting it today. I am printing the recipe word for word as I received it from Christina, my sisters’ friend who made it, so any and all credit goes to her.
Christina also noted to me, "please note that it hasn't been officially tested. I just guesstimated the amounts of the ingredients (since I never use a recipe) but since it's potato salad it doesn't have to be exact... I just don't want you to get busted for recipes that don't pan out... lolol!"
Christina's "Korean" Potato Salad
Potato Salad Ingredients
8 medium potatoes - largely diced
6 hard-boiled eggs
5 carrots - medium diced
2 Fuji apples
1 onion - medium diced
1 package ham (luncheon meat)
⅓ c. chopped green onions
2 c. mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip!!!)
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
First hard-boil the eggs - the trick to perfectly cooked eggs is to put the eggs in a pot, fill the pot with water until the eggs are covered - bring the pot to a boil, let it cook for 3 minutes then turn the heat off and put the lid on and keep it covered until the eggs have cooled down.
Bring a large pot of water (add some salt) to a boil. Dice the potatoes, carrots and onion - but don’t dice the potatoes too small or they will cook to fast and get mushy - also the salad looks better when they’re diced larger. Boil all the vegetables together (add the onions in half way through since they cook faster). Drain and let cool in a colander.
Chop the ham slices into small ½ inch cubes; you don’t need to use the whole package - chop as much as you want. Chop the green onions finely. Chop the eggs.
In a mixing bowl, mix the mayo, sugar, salt, pepper together and then add green onions (but save some green onions for garnishing on top), chopped ham and eggs to the mayo mixture. Taste the mixture and add sugar, salt and pepper to taste.
Dice the Fuji apples (with skin left on) into medium-sized cubes.
In a very large mixing bowl,add the potatoes,carrots,onions,apples and stir to mix them up. Then gradually add the mayo mixture in. You don’t need to use all of the mixture - just use the amount you want to. You can also add more mayo or seasoning if you need to.
Make sure the salad is not bland - it needs to have enough mayo and salt to taste good and flavorful. When you’re done mixing, put the salad into a cute serving bowl or platter and garnish the top of the salad with the remaining chopped green onion and a little pepper.
The end :)