The Asian Market Chronicles: Intro + Saranghae Koroke!

The Asian Market Chronicles: Introduction

Pseudo-Sojourning is a term I use for the act of visiting ethnic markets to vicariously fulfill a desire to physically visit a country.  It is actually a hobby I and those of us who don’t have the gumption or opportunity to travel internationally are quite keen on.

We are quite fortuitous to live in a city like San Diego. Where else in the world can one experience cultures through visiting Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, Persian, and Indian Grocery Shopping in the same city let alone the same street? 

Each market has its own unique character, peerless products, indigenous melodies serenading customers, vibrant fragrances and a certain je ne sais quoi that adds to their charm.

In this series I shall delve into my favorite experiences in my Pseudo-Sojourns in Korean Markets.

The Asian Market Chronicles: Saranghae Koroke!

What trip to a marketplace isn’t complete without entering the deli section? The rich aromas, enticing heat lamp lights, and all the food is presented behind glass like beautiful consumable art in such a tantalizing manner.  Once entering the deli/bakery section of Zion Market I was greeted by a charming associate with a shy “Annyonghaseyo” and slight smirk, perhaps she was enchanted  by my presence, perhaps she caught me ogling the food behind the glass.  Nevertheless, my attention was then captured  a most curious object.

The Croquette or “Koroke” as It is called in Korean Markets is culinary powerhouse containing but not limited to potatoes, eggs and beef mashed up and wrapped in breading and fried until it is golden brown delicious for less than $2.00.  The aroma is akin to a hearty Midwestern breakfast platter, aesthetically  it is in a most enticing round shape, and the taste is quite an experience. I must preface the rest of this article with the advice to buy a Koroke fresh out of the fryer, the experience lacks exponentially with time.

Upon eating you first pierce into its crunchy fried exterior (Croquer in Croquette is French for “To Crunch”) you discover a medley of mashed potatoes, onions, carrots, herbs, spices and depending on what variation you purchase, could have mushrooms, pumpkin, fish, chicken or beef. The croquette has it’s variations throughout the world however you can find it in your San Diego Chinese, Japanese, or Korean Market Delicatessens.

It is the perfect solution for today’s human, a balanced meal in one succinct portable package.

My preference is pairing a Koroke with a side of Kimchi to add heat to the flavor profile, in addition to freshness and tartness to contrast with fried potatoes and meat.

Once finishing the Koroke I exclaimed in broken Korean “Saranghae Koroke!” (on an unrelated note, KKonnect Writer Jini holds Korean Classes) . I received a rather bemused look from the associate and a “Saranghae means love, it is improper to use that phrase for inanimate objects correct?” to which I replied very unimaginatively  “Well, I LITERALLY love this Koroke”. Following a charity titter from the store associate. I went home happy with the feeling of gastronomic bliss and a little giddiness out of the vicarious thought that that associate may have been flirting with me. This was a nice Pseudo-Sojourn.

-Fateh K. aka “La Corée Culinaire Cavalier”

Picture from  http://recipespicbypic.blogspot.com/2008/09/drunken-chickens-croquettes.html

Author: Jini

So Cal 1.5 Generation Korean-American / Teacher-In-Training / Freelance MC and Kor-Eng Interpreter

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