“Oh dear God.”

These were the words I uttered after the first round of trick-or-treaters left our doorstep.

One of the people in this party was dressed-up like an Asian. I handed his children candy while my jaw hung wide open, for I couldn’t stop staring at his conical Asian hat. Yeah. You know which type of hat I’m talking about. He wouldn’t make eye contact with me and I’m guessing he didn’t expect a real Asian to answer the door.

Only two more rounds of trick-or-treaters arrived, and, believe it or not, not a single child was dressed like Elsa. One little zombie in the last group asked me how many pieces of candy they each could take, and I replied “two.” One girl grabbed all six of my remaining Kit Kats and stared at me as she slowly transferred them to her trick or treat bag. The other kids decided to do the same and went in for the big grab.

“Woah, let’s each take two,” I reminded them. They wrinkled their noses. “Well, if you wanted us to only take two, why didn’t you say so in the first place?” the bold one asked.

I did.”

They frowned and begrudgingly took their two pieces while I bit my tongue desperately wanting to ask, “And where the hell are your parents?”

As the kids ran into the minivan parked at the edge of my driveway, I declared trick-or-treating at our house officially over and turned off the front light. I had better things to do, like watch Roald Dahl’s The Witches and sip fancy gin. Eight o’clock quickly turned into Far North Solveig gin O’Clock.

We ate leftover chicken wings for dinner. The evening before, I had found a simple recipe for baked wings in my old, spiral bound Korean Cooking book published by the Korean Institute of Minnesota my parents bought during my years at Korean Culture Camp. The recipe contains ketchup, so it’s rather Koreanish.

Kind of like me.

Chicken Wing Collage

I pondered all of this as I sipped my gin.

I was adopted by a Midwestern family with Scandinavian roots and grew-up in a community in which few people looked like me. Now that I live in a community where I also encounter few Asians, I think about my Asianess a lot. My Asianess used to be a source of embarrassment, but I become more and more intrigued with it as I grow in age and confidence. I love how Lefse tastes as much like home to me as pork bulgogi. I’m used to looks of surprise when I boast about my Swedish meatballs and I crave the stern, Korean grandmothering I receive while dining at Dong Yang.

For now and for me, Koreanish can be Korean enough.

By the way, I’m saving these fortune cookies for the next folks who trick-or-treat at our house in 2016 dressed-up like Asian people. 

Drawer Watermarked

Koreanish Wings
Adapted from the Korean Cooking book published by the Korean Institute of Minnesota, circa 1983. Chili sauce or gochujang could be substituted for ketchup or added to the sauce. 

12 wings & drummies
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Dash of garlic powder or fresh minced garlic
Fresh grated ginger
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 tsp. rice wine vinegar


  1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, ketchup and rice wine vinegar.
  2. Place chicken wings in a marinating-safe container or bag and add the marinade. Toss the wings so they are evenly coated. Allow to sit overnight or as many hours as possible. I marinated my wings for five hours.
  3. Place wings in pan and bake at 350℉. Baste the wings with the sauce every once in a while.
  4. If the sauce starts to burn on the bottom of the pan, remove the wings and continue baking them on a different pan. You can also baste them with a light coat of butter.
  5. For extra caramelized wings, broil until the skin is as crispy as you’d like.