"Korean Carrot" at RUPTIKOG 

in which I discover Koryo-saram cuisine after having eaten it many times 

August 17th, 2015

Back before I moved to Kensington, Brooklyn in the summer of 2006, I had some homesteading friends with whom I would haaaang, getting drunk on Black Boss and eating Utz. (This is still my go-to formula for a "Good Time".)

We procured all this stuff at a Korean-owned bodega called "Golden Farm". It's still here (and rather well-known for having enormously underpayed their employees) but they expanded enormously quite a number of years ago and it's basically a grocery store now, but I would not blame anyone for thinking it was just a bloated bodega. (Their fruit and vegetable selection increased, but in inverse proportion to their potato chip selection.) With the expansion, they added a giant, red, wrap-around awning, along the bottom of which ran the words "RUSSIAN UKRANIAN POLISH TURKISH INDIAN KOSHER ORGANIC GOURMET". Hence, "RUPTIKOG". I have at least two friends who refer to this place as such.

Now, like most of the strange pseudo-groceries around here, this place has a refrigerated section filled with pickled, fermented, and smoked things. They have a special emphasis on kimchi and miso in addition to the usual pickled tomatoes and smoked herring. But right along with them are take-out-style containers which indicate no distributor or manufacturer and have labels that simply read "KIMCHEE", "SEAWEED SALAD" — and the real subject of this post, "KOREAN CARROT".

Korean carrot is delicious. It's one of those really felicitous combinations of very common flavors into something very interesting. Or what seem to be very common flavors. Whatever's going on, I think it's delicious, and rather addictive.

When I did a search for "Korean Carrot" for recipes, the Wikipedia article on carrot salad came up; from there I naturally went to the article on Korean-style Carrots. Basically, this stuff came about when ethnic Koreans (who refer to themselves as "Koryo-saram") living in post-Soviet states wished to make kimchi, but did not have Napa cabbage, and so adapted the recipe to use carrots instead! I'm glad they did.

To be honest, the particular recipe being sold at RUPTIKOG is almost not spicy at all. But in this way, the three vegetable salads of mysterious origin compliment each other rather well. At some point, I'll ask around and see if I can't discover their source (and whether they make the stuff themselves! I'm kind of hoping so…)