By Symrise Chef Steven Winka
As Western palates continue to crave more ethnically diverse flavor profiles, Asian cuisine remains at the forefront. You no longer need to live adjacent to a major city if you’re interested in finding hyper-regional, authentic cuisine. Hot pot restaurants continue to pop up left and right in suburban environments. Once impossible to find ingredients like Shaoxing wine, or oyster sauce are becoming more readily available in well-known grocery chains. The growth of Asian cuisine is certainly here to stay.
While Chinese food has captured the attention of Americans for some time now, the emergence of all things Korean is exploding on the restaurant/foodservice scene at an incredible rate. You can’t walk through most suburban towns now without passing a restaurant touting the best Korean fried chicken or the intoxicating smell of bulgogi beef being grilled tableside at a Korean BBQ spot.
However, one modern trend has taken the states by storm…the Korean Corn Dog. This incredible product hailing from the streets of South Korea started out as your typical corn dog, with some added texture by way of a quick roll in breadcrumbs prior to frying. You could choose between a few main options: just hot dog, just mozzarella cheese OR a combination of both. Since its inception, the Korean corn dog has taken on a life of its own, both overseas and now in the states. Similar to the rise of birria, social media has proven it’s influence on the world of food once again. I’ve seen everything from flamin’ hot cheeto crust all the way down to squid ink batter. My personal favorite is the half hot dog / half mozzarella dog rolled in cubed potatoes prior to frying. You get the best of both worlds…it’s almost like having your French fries and corn dog all wrapped up in one.
Another ingredient that has seen incredible growth stateside is chili crisp. Popularized by Chinese sauce company LaoGanMa, this versatile condiment is a balanced combination of chili oil and crunchy onion/garlic. Some products do contain nuts (typically peanuts) for some added texture and depth, so if you do have any sort of nut allergy just be mindful. As this product continues to grow in popularity, more and more craft producers have released their own specialized versions. I typically lean towards the chili crisp that contains the notoriously numbing Sichuan chili pepper.
Also, if you’re not a fan of spicy foods, there are a number of products on the market that are on the mild side. You can put this stuff on anything, and I mean ANYTHING. It goes great as a topper for your eggs in the morning, on a burger/hot dog, in a bowl of ramen, or…bear with me here…drizzled over a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I know it sounds crazy, but for those who love the sweet and savory mashups I promise it’s worth a shot!