There's a Chinese restaurant in Chennai called Hotel Canton. It serves your typical Indo-Chinese food- the Schezwan is somewhat spicy and the Manchurian is always gooey. Nothing remarkable at all......except for this one thing they have on their menu- the Kimchi. Or as I call it, the Un-Kimchi.
Except for the negligible presence of cabbage, it is nothing remotely like Kimchi at all. But it's so so so delicious that I usually scrape out the last bits onto my plate. Fresh, spicy, crunchy, sweet- all at the same time. The waiters were very reluctant to give out the recipe, but with a couple of seemingly innocent yet nosy questions the few times I went, I managed to worm bits of it out of them and come up with a very close approximation.
The important thing is to never pre-mix the solid ingredients with the sauce. It should be done at the table, just before serving. Yum, yum.
1) Cut the following into really thin strips or matchsticks (about 2 inch lengths)-
Cabbage, carrot, cucumber(peeled), green bell pepper, unripe mango(peeled), onion. More or less equal amounts of each, a bit less of the raw mango.
2) You could buy red chilly paste, but I like to make my own- the chef at the restaurant makes it too- Boil dried red chillies in water, cool, blend it into a paste and cook the paste in a little oil till it darkens slightly. (Cover your nose at all times to avoid sneezing your ribs apart)
3) In a bowl, add a generous amount of tomato puree, the chilly paste, a dash of lemon juice, sugar and salt (depending on the amount of veggies) The taste to go for is spicy and just sweet, with a hint of acid.
4) Heat up some oil and deep fry a handful of broken up chow mien noodles until they puff up and rise. Remove immediately and allow to rest on paper towels to soak up the oil.
5) Just before serving, add the veggies to the bowl of sauce and mix well. Add the fried noodles and toss lightly.