in-between food
June 26, 2017 3:28 PM   Subscribe

"Watching The Motel, a 2005 indie film about a Chinese-American family who own a motel in the middle of nowhere, was a revelation to me. I’ll always come back to the scene in which the mom, as a special dinnertime treat, buys McDonald’s for her family. She carefully unwraps the burgers and cuts them in half, placing each half on top of a bowl of white rice. I have never felt so understood by a movie." Let's Call it Assimilation Food, by Soleil Ho
posted by everybody had matching towels (20 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
Never had any, and, yes, am ABC (American Born Chinese). but this sounds tasty.
posted by pjmoy at 3:46 PM on June 26, 2017


When I was a teenager and my mom worked two jobs, she used to buy those vienna sausages that comes in a can and cuts them up into smaller pieces and then she either made ramen from the package with those and a bit of scrambled egg or she stirfried them a little bit and then fried them again in a thing of fried rice.

She still regularly makes me breakfast, when I come visit early enough, with pan-fried spam, with the french bread roll, and sunny side up eggs drizzled in soy sauce. The spam is a luxury because in Vietnam we'd usually have just the egg, bread, and soy sauce. It's always sunny side up so you break the yolk, let that stirred in with the soy sauce, tear out chunks of the bread, dip it in that concoction, and then you cut up bits of egg and take bites of both at once.

I don't remember the last time I've had banh khot, but making it with a waffle iron seems pretty great. I'll have to try that one day.
posted by numaner at 3:48 PM on June 26, 2017 [7 favorites]


I am making that waffle TONIGHT. I've always wanted a waffle iron and dang it, I finally have a iron-clad reason to buy one: Shrimp. Coconut. Beer. My favorite breakfast foods!
posted by memewit at 3:48 PM on June 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


For also an important South Asian take on Asian families owning motels, Mississippi Masala (1991) is also awesome, and features a younger Denzel Washington.
posted by yueliang at 4:23 PM on June 26, 2017 [5 favorites]


This is really interesting. I guess Toronto had a big enough South Asian community when I was growing up that my mom didn't have to resort to this kind of ingenuity but it is neat to see how people tried to adapt new ingredients to their old tastes under very tight budgets. I remember reading an article about a "Korean" carrot dish that is only known in Russia, which was made by immigrants under similar circumstances. Maybe a current take would be the ramen burger which can also be made pretty cheaply.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 4:34 PM on June 26, 2017


Where I grew up in Canada had so many Chinese restaurants and supermarkets I had a lot of cha chaan teng food, which is this the other way around: "Western" food cooked in an "Asian" way.

I've always wanted to see a compare and contrast of the diaspora and native "fusion" cuisines, like American sushi vs yoshoku in Japan, American Chinese vs cha chaan teng in HK, etc.
posted by airmail at 5:19 PM on June 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


You can get like layers of this stuff over a few generations. I'm mostly 3rd or 4th generation American, and I grew up on Filipino Japanese By way of Hawaii adapted for what was available in rural Nor-Cal grocery stores combined with mid-century American with a slew of Swedish recipes from a great grandmother who kept a kosher kitchen food. There must be a better term for that.
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 5:27 PM on June 26, 2017 [29 favorites]


Sounds like that's about to explode in a culinary supernova and introduce novel elements into the universe. "Fusion" seems like a better word for this sort of thing than what it's used for, careful highbrow expert interlacing of cuisines.
posted by XMLicious at 6:22 PM on June 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


I remember reading an article about a "Korean" carrot dish that is only known in Russia, which was made by immigrants under similar circumstances.

This Korean-derived culture in Russia and other post-Soviet states is called Koryo-saram (in Russian and their Koryo-mal language, but is called "Goryeoin" in Korean according to the Wikipedia article) and is well-established, with a long history.
posted by XMLicious at 6:32 PM on June 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


I dunno, I'm thinking more like Swedish meatballs with no pork and brown gravy over steamed calrose rice, and Spam pancit made with Maruchan noodles.
posted by Trinity-Gehenna at 6:33 PM on June 26, 2017


We had "American fried rice", which was actually invented in Thailand, although the kind we ate at home was different. American fried rice is the bomb. Ours was fried rice with ketchup, ham, bacon, peas, onion, and a fried egg on the side. The ketchup makes it red and kind of similar tasting to the "Mexican rice" sold in Mexican restaurants in the States.
posted by pravit at 7:14 PM on June 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


I really love this entire class of food writing.
posted by brennen at 9:21 PM on June 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


I've always wanted to see a compare and contrast of the diaspora and native "fusion" cuisines, like American sushi vs yoshoku in Japan, American Chinese vs cha chaan teng in HK, etc.

Japanese-style Chinese food is awesome. Canadian-style Chinese food is not.
posted by My Dad at 1:20 AM on June 27, 2017


I don't know if everyone would agree with that...
posted by XMLicious at 5:05 AM on June 27, 2017


tater tot hotdish with curry gravy, parsnips, bamboo, and Hmong sausage.

I don't even know what Hmong sausage is like, and that sounds awesome.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:30 AM on June 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


My friend, who is a pro chef, heard that I make this and he said, "That's an abomination. You should die of shame."

But it isn't. Hear me out. This is my secret signature dish.

Gefilte fish musubi.
posted by 1adam12 at 7:18 AM on June 27, 2017 [11 favorites]


I hated Japanese-style Chinese food when I was in Japan, so I'm not sure I agree with that.
posted by that girl at 8:37 AM on June 27, 2017


We had "American fried rice", which was actually invented in Thailand, although the kind we ate at home was different. American fried rice is the bomb. Ours was fried rice with ketchup, ham, bacon, peas, onion, and a fried egg on the side.

I had no idea it was a Thai thing originally,! My parents are from Hong Kong, home of the cha chaan teng, and I'd always assumed it was from Hong Kong. My family's is made with spam or hot dogs, fried egg chopped in, scallions, mixed vegetables, and if we'd been really good, ketchup.

Mr. Machine is Jewish-American, and his mother didn't enjoy cooking, so he comes to home cooking cooking by way of modern foodie culture with all of its concern about freshness and sourcing and authenticity. A couple years back, we were grocery shopping to make this for the first time as a ccouple, and Mr. Machine reached for fresh carrots in the organic produce aisle to chop up for this, and I almost fell over, because the correct thing to use are the frozen mixed vegetables that cost $1.99 for a bag as big as your head.
posted by joyceanmachine at 8:39 AM on June 27, 2017 [3 favorites]


The mother of a childhood friend of mine was Lao and made sticky rice available at every meal, even the quick American frozen meals she prepared to get lunch into us kids. Which is to say that I imprinted upon a specific meal and to this day have a bone-deep conviction that the proper accompaniment for corn dogs is sticky rice.
posted by telophase at 8:46 AM on June 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


One of the things my mother would do when I was young would be to cook "hamburgers".

These were not hamburgers with buns but still made from hand-kneaded ground beef; two recipes that seem to be in the neighborhood are this one (fancier) and this one. They're patties are served, essentially, as side dishes, meaning you'd take them from the middle, family-style serving area, put them in your rice bowl, and then eat. I don't know, how long of a "history" this particular dish has, but my guess is that it's post-1950 in origin, much like 부대찌개.

Japanese-style Chinese food is awesome.
I haven't had Japanese-Chinese, but I've had Korean Chinese and Indo-Chinese, and both of those are amazing. The former with dishes like 짜장면, 짬뽕, 탕수육 (noodles in blak bean sauce, noodles in spicy seafood broth, double-fried sweet & sour beef/pork), the latter with Jalfrezi Chicken and "Manchurian" cauliflower...

Korean Chinese was very much started with the Chinese diaspora in Korea, and then with Korean diaspora to the US (and Korean-Chinese diaspora...) brought here to the US. It's partially why the kimchi at those restaurants usually comes in two variants, with one of them in particular being made with bog-standard cabbage, not sturdier napa cabbage.

This Korean-derived culture in Russia and other post-Soviet states is called Koryo-saram (in Russian and their Koryo-mal language, but is called "Goryeoin" in Korean according to the Wikipedia article) and is well-established, with a long history.
this is a total aside, but: It's a bit of a tragic history, but on the other hand, it's led to people like Viktor Tsoi, one of the first (and most influential) Soviet-era Soviet rock musicians whose band Kino was a big thing.

posted by anem0ne at 8:54 AM on June 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


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