New Jersey’s Mitsuwa is to Japanese food what Flushing's Assi Plaza is to Korean cuisine. Both are Wal-Mart sized megastores that sell all manner of dry goods, fruit, vegetables, meats, fish, condiments, and cooking equipment, and it even boasts a restaurant. The exterior of the sprawling Assi Plaza reads “Oriental Food Cash & Carry.” Last night I paid visit to a section of store that I like to call the banchan bonanza. There are literally dozens of types of the small side dishes you'll see served at every Korean restaurant, ranging from more common items to bizarre specialties. Which brings us to today’s subject: bahnggae jorim, or seasoned small crab.
When I saw these tiny crustaceans in the case I had to grab some. Just in case the crabs tasted nasty I poured myself a little bit of Bek Se Ju, a sweet herb-infused soju, so I’d have something to wash them down. Far from nasty, they were quite good. The crunchy critters are slicked with sweet, spicy sauce riddled with sesame seeds, shredded carrot, tiny garlic cloves and dried red chili peppers. They remind me of the tiny candied crabs that I used to buy at Aji Ichiban in Chinatown, but way spicier. Some research leads me to believe that this dish is properly spelled bang gye jo rim. Bang ye meaning small crabs and jo rim referring to the sweet, spicy sauce.
Anyway you spell it these little suckers were quite good. I’ll be eating my way through the remaining three-quarters of a pound this week. All the chitin in the shells will likely do wonders for my hair and nails.
13101 39th Avenue, Flushing NY 11354 (map) 718-886-8101
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