Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ddeokbokki: korean hot and spicy rice cake

My mom is mental about Korean dramas. Mental. I do not think I can ever understand why she is so mesmerised by them when the same plots are basically used for virtually every series. But then again, who am I to judge? I can watch Nigella cook the same thing 500 times and not get tired of it.

One day not too long ago, Mom came to me and told me about this rice cake that she kept seeing people eat in the dramas. I realised what she was talking about - Ddeokbokki. Also known as Tteokbokki, this is a popular Korean snack food which is commonly purchased from street vendors. Since I knew I could make it, I told my mom that I would make Ddeokbokki for her one of these days.

I had a bit of time yesterday morning so I thought it was a good time for some experimenting. Firstly, whenever I cook Korean food, I always use Grade A (or was it AA) anchovies. You need to get those huge ones and of the best quality you can find. This is because the anchovies make up the foundation of the soup or the dish, along with the dried kelp, so you need to get it right for the best flavour.

Kelp expands like mad when cooked, so do not add too much. The anchovies (head and guts removed) and kelp were boiled for 15 minutes. I read somewhere that you must not over-boil them because the soup tends to become bitter.

I love the fact that there are so many good Korean stores around these days. There is this super spicy Korean ramen that I like and I can only find them in Korean shops. But I digress. 

I got the rice cakes and hot pepper paste from the Korean supermarket. This is what they look like.

All I had to do was to measure the hot pepper paste and hot pepper flakes.

Once the anchovies and kelp have been boiled for 15 minutes, I removed them and added the paste, the pepper flakes, sugar, and all the other ingredients.

I only needed to stir and watch the stock thicken.

When that happened, the dish was ready.

My mom ate the entire bowl of ddeokbokki. Not bad for an old lady who does not usually like to try new things!

Are you proud of me, Alice? :)

Ddeokbokki (Serves 4)
Adapted from Maangchi

450g rice cakes (600g if not using fishballs and quail eggs)
4 cups water
6x8 inch dried kelp
1/3 cup hot pepper paste
1 tbs hot pepper flakes
1 tbs sugar
3 spring onions, cut into 3 inch long pieces
10 quail eggs, boiled and shelled (optional)
200g fish balls/ fish cakes (optional)

1. Add the water, dried anchovies and dried kelp to a shallow pot or pan.
2. Boil for 15 minutes over medium heat without the lid.
3. Add hot pepper paste, pepper flakes and sugar.
4. Add rice cakes, quail eggs, fish balls, and spring onion.
5. Stir gently until sauce thickens and looks shiny. (About 7-10 minutes)
6. Serve hot.

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