14.024 Hot Ones: The Korean Edition

Cycle 14 – Item 24

29 (Sun) January 2023

Hot Ones: The Korean Edition


by me

at home

-Changgok, Sujeong, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, Republic of Korea-

with the Family

A second round of homemade Hot Ones (see most recently 14.017 Hot Ones: The Pantry Edition), this time with hot sauces produced in Korea, sold at E-Mart, vaguely American in style, distinctly Korean in character.

Whereas the wings are intended to be served in ascending order of hotness, I had to guess, based primarily on appearance and the name of the sauces, because they don’t have published data on Scoville heat units (SHU) (except Jindotgae), and I didn’t pre-taste any of them, so as not to spoil the experience for myself.

Ace+ Hot Sauce (1.0): watery, sour, flavorless – can’t believe anyone could possibly like this..
Jindotgae Hot Sauce (2.5) (3,600 SHU): well balanced, most mainstream of the bunch.
Maepda Hot Sauce (2.0): quite hot, but doable (I’d estimate around 5,000-8,000 SHU) – “maepda (멥다) = it’s spicy” – reminiscent of ddeokbokki in flavor.
Capsaicin Sauce (0.0): tasted like burnt rubber, instantly burning hot, forcing me to spit it out as soon as it touched my tongue – I’m wondering if the product is meant to be added in small amounts to other sauces, rather than eaten on its own – nobody else dared to try it.

Buldak is a Korean dish.  The name of the dish means “fire (bul) + chicken (dak),” literally and figuratively.  Chicken is cut into pieces, grilled over flames, then tossed in a spicy sauce made with cheongnyang chili powder.  Whereas cheongnyang chili peppers are the hottest ingredient in the Korean pantry (rated 10,000 SHU, compared to 1,500 SHU for standard red chili peppers), buldak is arguably the hottest dish in Korean cuisine.  In fact, the dish was designed as such, intended to inflict maximal pain, rising to infamy during the economic recessions of the early 2000s, a masochistic culinary panacea for the suffering masses (or so they say).   To be clear, buldak is not a mainstream item.

I’ve never tried the dish, never encountered it on a menu, and probably wouldn’t have ordered it if the opportunity had presented.

Haek Buldak Sauce (3.0): very hot (I’d say around 10,000 SHU), yet the sweetness made it seem kinda pleasant, reminiscent of yangnyeom chicken (rather than buldak, which isn’t really sweet).

Presumably, Haek Buldak Sauce is meant to emulate buldak seasoning.  The “haek” means “nuclear.”

The Last Dab (at the top left part of the plate, the spit-out remnants of the Capsaicin wing).

In guessing the order of hotness, I got 4 out of 5 correct.  The Capsaicin should’ve gone last – actually, it would’ve been excluded had I pre-tasted it.  

In contrast to the entirely painless experience of the prior round, this time we were feeling it, starting with the Maepda wing.   We agreed unanimously that the Haek Buldak wing was the best, even though it was the hottest.  

Can’t imagine what the full array of 10 wings, including sauces in excess of 2,000,000 SHU, would be like.  I must buy the actual set of Hot Ones sauces and do it for real.

(See also HANSIK)

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