Junk food in Asia


The above pictured monstrosity will probably be showing up at an event near you soon. It’s a hot dog covered with chunks of French fries then coated with batter and deep fried. And it ain’t something I read about at the Indiana State Fair, but a commonly sold item on the streets of Seoul, South Korea. (Click here for more photos)

French fries aren’t the only thing that coat hot dogs in Korea. Kiosk vendors

wrap them in bacon, mashed potato, corn batter or what looked to be seaweed then invariably deep fry them.

And God only knows what kind of oils they’re deep fried in.

Remember this post the next time you recommend a low-carb diet to someone, and that someone tells you that Asians live longer because their diet is primarily rice.

On another note, there are a number of comments that I haven’t gotten to yet and probably won’t until late tonight. I scored tickets to the Dallas – New England Patriots football game today in Dallas. If you watch the game and the TV pans the crowd, look for me (along with wife, son and two grandsons) on the 45 yard line about 6 rows up on the Dallas side. Right now New England is a 4.5 point favorite – if you’re smart, you’ll take Dallas and the points. That’s what I’m doing.

If I don’t get to the comments tonight, it won’t be until late tomorrow. MD and I are flying to the East Coast at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning. On US Air. God help us.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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31 thoughts on “Junk food in Asia

  1. The Korean snack garbage is horrible nutritionally but really beautiful just as an object (abject?).

    Have you been reading about Martha Stewart’s daughter, Alexis? She’s 42, divorced, infertile and wants to make the domestic diva a grandmother so she’s getting treatments that cost $28,000 a month. The final sentence in the story that I read says that Alexis is a vegetarian and supporter of PETA. Perhaps a good chunk of sirloin and some lard might get her body functioning normally and she could spend that $28,000 on getting a personality implant.

    I have great empathy for women/couples who are infertile but I feel that there’s something obscene about this desperate endeavor.

    Sometimes all it takes is a little good quality fat to stimulate reproduction. I can’t tell you how many patients we had who got pregnant once they started a good quality, whole-food, high-fat, high-protein, low-carb diet.



  2. I was just in Asia. Everyone there was skinny not because of what they ate, but because of how much they ate (and how much they walked). In Thailand, most people don’t have a kitchen and eat 100% of their meals at restaurants. Most of that food is fried.

  3. Trans Fats + Acrylamides + Advanced Glycation End Products + Lipid Peroxides = Mmmmm mmmmm…gooooooooood eatin’!

    Can’t wait to get a hold of this one…the fried twinkie is finally outdone. I hope they’ll sell this with a side o’ slaw and deep fried ischemia.

  4. I currently live in Asia (Japan) and I am amazed how much carbs they eat. Yet somehow
    they are all slim and healthy and the Japanese are currently the longest living nation on Earth. In addition to copious amounts of carbs in the form of rice, breading (tempura) and ever present sweetened soy sauce, they are no strangers to candies, cakes and cookies. I’ve tried coming up with theories on why the Japanese remain thin and healthy on this (very delicious) but relatively high carb diet, and only genetic predisposition comes to mind. Or maybe it’s because no one here drinks 80g sugar soda drinks, instead quenching the thirst with green tea…

    Hi bart–

    They don’t drink the huge HFCS drinks and they don’t eat a whole lot of calories. If you keep your calories low, you can get by with more carbs.



  5. Dr Mike,

    Enjoy the game!

    They have similar kinds of gourmet food over here in Ireland. For example, in the local “chip shops”, you can find deep fried chocolate bars of all sorts. I’ve never ventured to wet my beek, but i know many that do, very often too. Suffice to say, they are not ProteinLifeplanners…and they got plenty of the insidious abdominal fat as evidence.


  6. “if you’re smart, you’ll take Dallas and the points. That’s what I’m doing.”

    From a Lo-Carb Pats Fan……………HA!

    HA indeed.

  7. Dallas and the points?
    Oh well.

    Here is an application of wisdom of the crowds to betting on sports. If the line moves like crazy to induce people to bet both sides of a game (like a home team giving 4.5 points instead of getting 3), it tells you that most of the money is on the other side, in this case New England. Factor that they had killed everyone and that the AFC is better than the NFC this year (again), and, well, you know what you need to know.

    Hi Max–

    That was more or less my strategy in betting Dallas. The line was moving out. I actually got my bet down at Dallas +5.5 points. It seems like an easy call now to go with the Pats, but they don’t build those big casinos in Las Vegas (where the line is set) by giving money away. Typically if you go against the crowd, you make money just like the casinos do. But they lose from time to time. As they did on the Dallas game.



  8. 4.5 point favorites…..ouch!! Are you sure there wasn’t a misplaced decimal point?

    As it turns out it could have been 14.5 and I would have still lost.

  9. Too bad I didn’t get to the computer yesterday. I was actually eating traditional Asian food. Chinese really. Dim sum. Not really healthy for the most part but certainly not as bad as that.

    I certainly would have told you not to take Dallas and the points. I also would have looked for you when I wasn’t grilling fresh caught Mahi-Mahi with garlic and butter to make up for the brunch with my Chinese friend. In fact I probably wouldn’t have touched that game except for maybe the over. I don’t know what it was though so I couldn’t tell you.

    Mark’s Daily Apple has a link to a video of ABC interviewing the guy who comes up with all the deep fried stuff for the fairs. I haven’t watched it yet. Will when I get home to a faster connection. Thought you might want to check it out.

    Hey thanks Joe–

    I found the clip and posted on it today. I wish you could have talked me out of taking Dallas and the points.



  10. “Right now New England is a 4.5 point favorite – if you’re smart, you’ll take Dallas and the points. That’s what I’m doing.”

    So…..did you lose much!?!?!

    Lifelong Pats fan here…..glad to see they won! Good game!

    Hi Cindy–

    I didn’t lose all that much, thank God. I still think it was a good bet. I figured the Pats would win by 3 or 4. Fooled me.



  11. I also don’t get why people keep insisting that Asians eat a low fat diet. I had a lot of Thai friends when studying in Germany and I used to have dinner with them quite often. Honestly I found nothing low-fat about their cooking other than the rice which was more of a side dish. They use oils, pork and eggs liberally.

    The only marked difference between the Asian (from Thailand China and Pakistan) students and the European ones is that the Asians cooked their own dinner every single day whereas the others relied on ready made stuff and junk food in general.

    The funny thing is that they were so infamous for daily cooking that some students in the dorms were reluctant to accept an Asian student as a flatmate because of the daily mess / smell in the kitchen.

  12. …Although some folks in North Korea would kill for that thing….

    The folks from North Korea would probably kill for anything that smacks of food.

  13. So, I looked at the page, and a hotdog, wrapped in bacon, then deep fried seems, well, not exactly healthy (with the trans fat issue looming) but not exactly a problem to low carb eating. In fact, why not. I might just have to try this at home.

    Hey Max–

    Go for it and report back. Of all the choices listed, that one seemed the best to me.



  14. Now, why do you have to go and rip on the Indiana State Fair? :)

    I grew up outside of Indy, and we were annual regulars at the state fair. As I remember, aside from the elephant ears, cotton candy, and pop by the gallon (of course, my favorite was the ribeye steak sandwich!) , the food wasn’t *that* bad. Well, okay, maybe it was *that* bad… but certainly not any worse than any other state fair.

    (Believe it or not, I’ve even been to the Marin County fair in CA – about as far-removed as you can get from the Midwest – and I don’t remember the food being any more healthful. :) )

    Hey Chip–

    Sorry if I unfairly maligned the Indiana State Fair. It was just the name that popped into my head as I wrote the piece. Somehow I don’t think that had I used the Marin County Fair that the impact would have been the same. If the truth be told, I would much rather attend the Indiana State Fair than I would the Marin County Fair irrespective of dietary choices.



  15. My granddaughter (she’s 21, so I can’t stop her) dips oreos in pancake batter and deep fries them. When my kids were small, I knew nothing about paleolithic diets. I fed them what I thought was a great diet- Wheatena, oatmeal, fruit juice, peanut butter, etc. It may have been better than some kids got, because mine had no sodas or trashy candy and junk food. And they did get lots of good meat and vegetables. The cookies they ate were home made by me. But still, they were loaded with sugar and Crisco. I had never heard of trans fats.

    Today, they are both in their 40’s, and both Type 2 diabetics. What on earth can you feed children that really IS healthy?? How do you keep them from eating junk when they’re away from home? Many schools have candy and other crud readily available. And ALL the kids are eating it. What to do? What can they drink besides water? And, of course, many brands of bottled water are now suspect.

    What should babies be fed? Paleolithic mom probably pre-chewed some mammoth and spat it into junior’s mouth. After breast milk (still in fashion, one assumes) my pediatrician started my kids on rice cereal and fruit. So what do you recommend as a reasonably healthy diet that a child will actually eat? You can control infant and toddler foods, but how about once they reach school age? What happens on sleepovers? It’s difficult enough to try to prevent use of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana!

    Personal question, should you care to answer…. do you and your wife not like seafood? I wondered, because I haven’t seen any grilled salmon, lobster tails, or raw oysters included in any of your tempting food photos.

    My sweetie and I are about to embark on a Bermuda cruise on Saturday, leaving from and returning to Port of Philadelphia. Now, I am a Philadelphian born and bred, and lived there for my first 40 years. Let me tell you, if you see a “Philly cheese steak” on a menu anywhere else, except New Jersey and possibly parts of Delaware- well, it isn’t. As to hoagies and oven grinders… forget it. Subs, heroes et al simply don’t stack up. Can’t get the right rolls anywhere else, except possibly NY Jewish delicatessan. Right texture, wrong shape.

    But when we stop at our favorite Westgate Pub on the way into Philly, I will order a cheese steak, and Hans will order a chicken salad hoagie. We cut them in half and trade so we both have some of each. Then we scrape them out, discard the roll, et voila! We’ve found this method better than trying to order a hoagie without the roll.

    Hope you eat some lobster in Maine!

    Hi Dorothy–

    We’ve had plenty of lobster, scallops and fresh fish since we’ve been here. Have fun on the Bermuda cruise.



  16. Hmm, Am I the only one who thinks that deep fried french fried covered hot dog looks good 😉 I am surprised that nothing like that has been offered at the Orange County Fair.

    Give it time. It’ll be there.



  17. What don’t Korean/Japanese/Chinese street vendors sell? Seriously.

    You could get any chunk of mammal, put a stick in it, deep fry it, and sell it as Mystery Meat on a Stick. This is a pretty tame meal.

    Health-wise, of course, well…

    If I go there, I certainly won’t be eating Mystery Meat on a Stick. But maybe grilled…



  18. If you’re really lucky, they’ll fry it in peanut oil, (raw, not denatured), which is really healthy and adds great flavor!

    Don’t bother selling that contraption in Kampuchea; in the process of tutoring refugees from there in the 80s, I learned that most of them love hamburgers, but despise fries. Then again, maybe it was just the refugees; I think the crunchy outside and soft inside of fries reminded them of insects they’d been forced to subsist on when they were fleeing for their lives.

    Peanut oil adds great flavor, but healthful, I’m not so sure.



  19. I spent a couple years in Korea, and although I didn’t see that monstrosity there, I did see quite a few streetside vendors selling boiled silkworm larvae. I tried some once, and it tasted like… insects smell (I remember what they smell like from my childhood – duh). Do a write up!

  20. Well coming from Scotland that looks like a healthy snack to me.

    I remember going to the chippy at lunch at school and getting deep fried pizza, deep fried mars bars (or any choc bar), deep fried haggis and irn bru. Those were the days! And I’m still only 11 stone.