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.