Category Archives: Ingredients

It Came from H Mart: Potato Flavored Snack

When potato chips are just too much potato, when you want that potato flavor without so much potato content…our Korean friends at Nong Shim rescue us with their Potato Flavored Snack, “fresh” from the snack food aisle at H Mart.

what could possibly go wrong?

Potato Flavored Snack

So many things I love about this product. No trans fat. Potato is the second ingredient, after wheat flour and just before wheat starch.  Given that, the disclaimer “Contains wheat, milk and soy” is unsurprising (milk due to whey powder and soy due to “non-fat soybean” I guess).  I also like the second disclaimer, “manufactured in a facility that processes egg and shrimp.” Also, ingredients are listed in Korean, English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese — but disclaimers are in English only.  Sucks to be egg-intolerant in Brazil or Western Europe!

Especially love the slightly anthropomorphic potato flavored snack guys on the package. Cuteness that must be eaten, and soon, since the expiry date is March 14, 2011 — seems an awfully short shelf life for this kind of product.  And they don’t make it easy: package is impossible to open without using a sharp object; there is a helpful “open here” arrow at the top right but you still need scissors or a knife to open there.

Thank goodness Mrs. Me allows me to have sharp objects. Once you get past the packaging, the Potato Flavored Snacks are like tiny, airy, corrugated french fries and after an intitial crunch practically melt on the tongue.  Not much flavor, potato or otherwise, though I can taste a little onion or garlic.  Maybe they should try transposing the potato and wheat flour percentages. Or maybe I should try normal potato chips. But what fun would that be?

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Chicken Out

Another rotisserie chicken source, woohoo. The excitement is palpable. Chicken Out (hq in Rockville, with 12 DC-area locations) is average, fine if you’re nearby and craving chicken but not worth seeking out, in nearly every way — chicken, mashed potatoes, caesar salad, all good but nothing special.  But the potato salad, for some reason, is superb, and simple too: mostly just potatoes and egg, a little mayo, salt, pepper, a few scallion bits.  Could the secret ingredient be celery seed?  Cook’s Illustrated has established the subtle importance of celery seed to awesome potato salad. In any case, I wish our local supermarkets had potato salad this good.

Best…Dish…Ever (Theoretical Division)

Tyler Cowen has a post about which ingredients signal a high-quality dish; his interlocutor suggests scallions, while Tyler suggests fish sauce, limes, saffron, chicken gizzards, and Sichuan peppercorns. If we assume for argument’s sake that these suggestions are empirically correct, we should create a stir-fry of chicken gizzards with scallions and Sichuan peppercorns in a lime-saffron-fish sauce-sauce and see how it tastes.  Not sure the saffron fits with the other ingredients, but I would nevertheless have high hopes. Maybe the folks at Joe’s or Michael’s or Wheaton’s own New Kam Fong or Hollywood East or Wong Gee or Full Key or Paul Kee can give it a shot.  Maybe one already is?

I’m trying to think of other good ingredient examples but the problem is that any ingredient is misused as often as it is well-used, from truffles to pork belly to Spam.  Maybe bacon — when has bacon ever failed to improve a dish? And yet there is plenty of inferior bacon out there.

Flying Spaghetti Taco Monster

I had never heard of iCarly until today, so maybe I am the last to find out about the apparent spaghetti taco craze.  It’s creative, and I can see the appeal to kids: weirds out the adults, something different, messy.* Two great tastes, but do they really taste great together? I am skeptical. I’m all for creativity, but just because something is creative doesn’t mean it is a good idea.  Fusion cuisine may have shark-jumped for the pre-teen set as well as for adults. I’m not the kind of person who insists that each food item must be separate on the plate — no touching! — but some combinations work, and some don’t.  I will reserve final judgment until the unlikely event I actually eat a spaghetti taco.

Mostly this is just more evidence, as though we needed more evidence, that television is enormously influential.

I should note that this is not the first time spaghetti has been combined with foreign substances, e.g. Cincinnati two-way (or more) chili, the appeal of which also eludes me. I like spaghetti, I like chili…but not together. On the other hand, I eagerly await the advent of spaghetti sushi.  Rice, spaghetti, what’s the diff?

* the NYT article linked above quotes a college professor of pop culture as saying “spaghetti tacos has** made it possible to eat spaghetti in your car” — which is true in the sense that the taco makes the spaghetti initially easier to hold, but is nonsense in that the taco will quickly shatter and you’ll have spaghetti all over you and your car. Good luck with that!

** shouldn’t this be “spaghetti tacos have,” tacos being plural? Or does he mean the concept of tacos?

Anchovies: Fishy Scourge of the Plate, or Good Eatin’?

I have been pondering anchovies lately, sometimes even as I eat them. Few if any of my friends or family appreciate anchovies, but I like them, and I haven’t even been exposed to what I imagine are the really good anchovies, fresh out of the Ionian Sea or something. Packed in a can of olive oil is fine for me.

“I don’t like fish that taste like fish,” said a friend recently, echoing (completely coincidentally) an article in the August 10 issue of Nation’s Restaurant News on underappreciated fish. But what else should fish taste like? True, few of us enjoy a mouthful of seawater, much less Potomac or Chao Praya (see previous post) water, but that’s not really what a good fish should or does taste like. I love the anchovy fishy-saltiness; it is of the sea, rather than being the sea itself.

Now, I’m not sitting around the house popping anchovies like Pringles. But I enjoy them on pizza, a rare treat given I usually don’t  get my own pizza and can’t seem to convine my fellow pizza travelers to allow fish anywhere near thair pie. And I love them as part of a base for pasta sauce: anchovies and garlic muddled in olive oil — or better still, bacon grease — results in truly good eatin’. Lots of umami in anchovies, I think.

I am still waiting for one of the increasingly ubiquitous cupcake purveyors of greater DC to offer an anchovy cupcake.