Same but different
They may be separated by oceans and mountains, but these foods have some uncanny similarities to each other. We here at Eatbook have decided that it would be fun to to pit them against each other and pick which one we’d rather eat. Here’s the list and don’t forget to comment on your choices too!
1. You Tiao vs Churros
Essentially fried dough sticks, these guys are fundamentally the same. You tiaos are savoury though, while churros are a sweet Mexican street snack.
The dough used is also different. You tiao dough is fermented with the addition of baking soda to give it airy insides. Churro dough can be made quickly in a single pot with water, flour and eggs!
This is such a tough call! On the one hand, churros are synonymous with my best memories in Disneyland. But you tiao is one of those things that are always on the back of my mind when I’m in any hawker centre.
I’ll have to go with churros though. Those sticks dusted with cinnamon sugar stole my heart a long time ago, even though I doubt I’ll ever find a good churro in Singapore.
Churros, hands down. I love you tiaos, but cinnamon sugar coated churros are just irresistible.
2. Chawanmushi vs Creme Brulee
These two dishes can be considered as custards, the chawanmushi being a savoury one and the creme brulee a sweet one. Even the cooking methods are relatively similar. Swap the stock used to make chawanmushi for cream and you’ll have a creme brulee base! Add a layer of sugar on the top and torch it and you’ll have your very own French dessert.
This is an easy pick for me, I’m not a huge fan of eggs and creme brulee tastes the least eggy of the two.
I grew up in a Teochew household eating steamed egg, so chawanmushi’s a definite winner for me. Plus most versions of creme brulee out there are underwhelming.
3. Rendang vs Beef Stew
Rendang is technically a beef stew, but taken to the extreme. While typical French beef stews retain liquid in the final product, rendang requires the liquid to be completely reduced and the remaining product is fried again for additional flavour.
This is another close call, I love the taste of beef stew especially on a chilly day, and to have the fatty bits melt in your mouth and into the sauce is a feeling like no other. BUT, Rendang is just so satisfying and punishing at the same time. It’s spicy and I feel like it’s punching my tastebuds with every bite, yet I can’t stop eating it. Rendang wins.
I can cook a pretty mean beef stew, but I have no idea how to even start the rempah for beef rendang, so I’ll never say no to beef rendang. There’s nothing more gratifying than stuffing your face with spoonfuls of rendang and rice.
4. Zha Jiang Mian vs Bolognese
Zha Jiang Mian is a dry noodle dish with minced meat cooked in bean paste. Bolognese is essentially the same deal but cooked in a tomato base. Even the history of variations of the dish are similar. Zha Jiang Mian originated from Shandong, China before it was exported to Korean and Japan by Chinese refugees. Bolognese was first made in Bologna, Italy before it was brought to America by Italian immigrants where the most familiar version of Spaghetti Bolognese was born!
I definitely prefer a good bolognese to the other option. The sweetness of tomatoes and the herbiness does it for me. I also prefer the texture of well cooked pasta to the noodles used in Zha Jiang Mian.
A good zha jiang mian done well is definitely more satisfying than a bolognese. The crunch of the cold cucumbers goes particularly well with the spicy meat sauce and chewy noodles. But since it’s easier to find good bolognese than good zha jiang mian, I’m going with the Italians on this one.
5. Siew Yoke vs Spanish Roast Pig (Cochinillo)
Siew Yoke and Cochinillo are also made very similarly. They are essentially both roasted pork, Siew Yoke only consists of the pork belly portion while Cochinillo consists of the whole sucking pig.
The flavours associated with Siew Yoke come from spices and preserved beancurd, while Cochinillo is brushed with olive oil, thyme and salt.
Both dishes have similar cultural significance and are featured during big festivals or events such as weddings. In fact, Cochinillo makes an appearance in one of the oldest novels of all time, Don Quixote.
I’m picking the cochinillo over the siew yok because i love soaking up the juices with a fry or something. I’m a huge fan of siew yok and pork in general, but the juices just do it for me.
This one insane choice to make, but the spanish roast pig wins by just a tiny bit. I love biting into crispy, fatty skin and moist tender meat. And I find that spanish roast pig is usually more succulent than a siew yoke.
6. Mui Fan vs Risotto
Mui Fan is a traditional cantonese dish that is basically rice served with a thick gravy. Risotto on the other hand is cooked in a stock with Aborio rice which is rich in starch giving risotto its texture.
The gravy used in Mui Fan is thickened stock with eggs mixed in. Unlike the risotto, the liquids aren’t fully incorporated into into the starch.
Growing up in a cantonese family and being fed porridge every time I was sick has cultured an aversion to anything that feels like porridge to me. Unfortunately, mui fan falls into that category for me and risotto wins!
Definitely, definitely risotto. Not only does the Italian version look better, it’s also richer, has more depth, and has a more appealing texture.
7. Chinese Egg Noodles vs Fresh Pasta
Legend has it that it was Marco Polo who brought the recipe for noodles back to Italy on his voyages to Asia that served as the inspiration for the pasta we have today.
The production of egg noodles and pasta are essentially the same, although egg noodles often have some form of starch added to give it its distinct texture.
Again, I prefer the texture of pasta over that of Chinese noodles. Pasta wins here.
Please don’t make me choose. I am more a noodle person than a rice person and I really love all sorts of noodles. If I really had to give an answer, pasta wins just by a tiny bit.
8. Korean BBQ vs Texas BBQ
When I think about BBQ, these two varieties come to mind. The cooking methods are similar, but the ingredients and marinates used are very different. Korean BBQ also tends to cook smaller portions while Texas BBQ does whole ribs at a time.
There’s a heavy emphasis on the wood used during Texas BBQ, different types of wood impart specific flavours when burnt, but the Koreans stick with charcoal or gas powered grill most of the time.
As much as I love a good Texas BBQ, I’ll say that Korean BBq has piqued my interest of late. I love most of the side dishes that come with it, and the communal feel of girlling meats together makes the experience for me. Korean BBQ wins!
Texas barbeque. Both types of barbeques get a little one dimensional after awhile, but there is more complexity involved in getting good barbequed ribs and wings that have a nice balanced smoky flavour. Korean barbeque just seems very overrated to me.
9. Popiah vs Burritos
Derived from the spring roll, popiah is a bastard child that utilized the ingredients available locally. The skin of popiah and burrito skins are made from wheat flour even though the ingredients are different.
The classic burrito is made with a beef filling and stuffed with peppers spices and avocadoes while popiah tends to be heavier on the vegetables even though pork, shrimp and crabmeat versions exist. Another notable difference is that Popiah is usually served with a dipping sauce. Burritos have a “wet” version where an enchilada sauce is poured over it.
Burritos often feel too heavy for me, and even though I do enjoy them in short bursts, I still prefer the healthier and lighter popiah. The dipping sauces allow me to adjust it to just the right flavour and there’s more textural play involved in it. Popiah wins!
I’ve never had a burrito other than KFC’s bandito pocket. Does that even count? So I guess it’s popiah for me. I used to really hate it when I was younger, but now I just can’t get enough of it. Plus points if the popiah stall uses really spicy chili sauce for an extra oomph.
10. Kong Bak Pao vs Burger
Who would possibly turn down pork belly? Especially when it’s fried and braised in soy sauce like with Kong Bak Pao! It’s the Asian answer to a burger and a damn good one at that.
Another worthy point of contention would be the buns used. Man tous are steamed while the buns used in burgers are baked. Burgers have more flexibility though, and more toppings to choose from.
After much internal debate, I have to pick a Kong Bak Pao over burgers. I can’t get over melt in your mouth pork belly and a drippy sauce that’s just bursting with flavour. I’ll take this over a cheeseburger anyday.
I’m a burger girl through and through. There’s just no better comfort food than a juicy cheeseburger chockful of pickles.
What’s your pick?
Now that you know our picks, we’d love to hear yours! Leave a comment on your choices or any other comparisons you may want us to try!