Get Your Own Tots

by Stacey Jaros

Several weeks ago on some weekend day we had the TV on while doing chores. An episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives rolled around. One of the places profiled was Sakaya Kitchen in Miami, FL. Since I'm a fan of Asian fusion (duck tacos, yum! RIP Kung Fu Tacos.) I paid real close attention while I folded laundry.

One of the dishes they highlighted was "Chunk'd Tots." Like many things on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives I was a little afraid of just what over-the-top thing "chund'd" might mean. The chef started with a marinade, which seemed innocent enough. The meat was grilled and then set aside. Then he made a sauce which happened really quickly in TV time. I didn't even catch the details of the ingredients but the next element was deep-fried tater tots. Who doesn't love tots?

Then the tots were tossed in the sauce, topped with the meat, and served hot. Before the host took the bite of approval I shouted, "I'm making that."

Thanks to Google I found an actual recipe. The ingredients looked workable, and really delicious. I knew I could substitute bulgogi pre-marinated boneless beef ribs. I figured it wouldn't be that awful to bake the tots like I usually do at home, rather than deep-frying them.

I set about gathering ingredients. I headed to Trader Joe's for the Bool Kogi
After googling "white melting cheese" I chose some asiago and fontina while I was there. I also searched for some gochujang at Trader Joe's but they didn't seem to have any. I moved on to our local, family-owned, supermarket for tots and scallions. While there I looked for gochujang but again was denied. Since making the dish wasn't going to happen for a few days I took my shopping home. The next day I swung by our local Safeway and I was yet again denied gochujang. I was really surprised I was unable to find the condiment. I figured I'd have to order it from Amazon.

At that point the soonest I was going to make the dish was today, Sunday. Since I was headed into San Francisco yesterday I thought I'd swing by a store or two on the way home. Success! The Safeway in my old neighborhood had two varieties of gochujang to choose from.

This morning I set about preparing the cheese sauce. It came together pretty easily. I only wish I'd made a little more, I didn't measure the ingredients carefully. I also measured a little shy on the gochujang because there is some HEAT in it.

Jeff grilled up the Bool Kogi while I baked the tots in the oven. Once cooked I tossed the tots in the sauce. Even though I was being very gentle while tossing the tots a couple fell apart. I think if they'd been fried they may have held together a little better. I found using the most delicate touch  I was able to coat the remainder of the tots without breaking any more.

After dishing up the sauce covered tots, I sprinkled a handful of the cooked beef, then a few scallion slices.

This. Did. Not. Disappoint.

I will definitely make this again, and I'm wondering what else I can put this sauce on.

I've definitely made quick plans to visit a place I discovered on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (Tee Off in San Francisco) but this is the first time I've sought out a recipe this impulsively.

Even with the trouble obtaining all the ingredients I would definitely do this again. You probably should too.

I made myself take a break mid-bowl to take a picture. It wasn't easy. I didn't even bother to make sure it was in focus. I'm not sorry.

I made myself take a break mid-bowl to take a picture. It wasn't easy. I didn't even bother to make sure it was in focus. I'm not sorry.