Living in the southern hemisphere, the continent furthest from Korea, I’m constantly missing Korean food that I can’t find here, especially the food from street vendors.
If you live in Korea or are visiting Korea for business or vacation, please enjoy the great goodies that you can easily find on any major shopping streets. Do it for me!
Around this time you will find many sweet pancakes, roasted sweet potatoes and chestnuts, and different types of rice cakes and fish cake soups. These are just the tip of the iceberg. Just thinking of all the goodness makes me drool. Slurp…! “Holly! Pull yourself together!!!”
So I bugged my husband to drive me to a Korean grocery store last weekend, which is about 1 hour away from where I live. I could drive, of course. But it is impossible to find parking space in that neighborhood, so he has to drop me off in front of the store, where I quickly grab a few things I need while he drives around the area until I finish shopping. The Korean stores are quite small and I can finish the shopping within 15 minutes.
One great thing about Korean grocery stores in Buenos Aires is that you can usually get freshly made tofu and rice cakes along with fresh produce.
I love plain rice cakes. I often eat them plain, right out of package without any additional flavor. Chewy and satisfying! It is a carb lover’s dream. But if I have to add something to make it even more delicious, here is one simple recipe that I would like to share. With this recipe, you can mimic one of the most famous Korean street foods. It’s the rice cake skewers called Tteok kkochi (떡꼬치).
If you can access the freshly made rice cakes, you are very lucky. If you can’t find the fresh kind, but the frozen cakes are available, use them by all means. Now let’s see how easily you can imitate a delicious Korean street snack in your own kitchen.
These are the main ingredients for the sauce. Ketchup, Korean chili paste, strawberry jam and/or sweet chili sauce. You can use either strawberry jam or sweet chili sauce, but if you happen to have both? Use them both.
In a small mixing bowl, mix all the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
Cut the rice cakes to the desired size.
(If you are using frozen rice cakes, you will need to blanch in hot water until softened, wipe off the water with a paper towel, then cut into pieces)
Pierce 3-4 rice cakes with skewers.
Fry in the oil until the surface of the cakes gets bubbly and crisp, about 2-3 minutes on each side.
In another small skillet, boil the sauce until it thickens a little.
Coat the sauce over the rice cake and sprinkle with some chopped nuts of your choice. Walnuts, almonds or peanuts are great!
Enjoy it! You will love the crisp texture on the outside but the chewy soft stickiness of rice cakes inside. Even my husband, who is not a big fan of anything “rice cake”, thought it was great.
I must be getting older. I am feeling homesick these days..
I left Korea some 25 years ago, and never been able to live there since then. Although I occasionally visit and spend some time with my family, it is not the same. I envy those who get to live in Korea. Aren’t you having so much fun? Jealous…!
Rice Cake Skewers, Tteok Kkochi (떡꼬치)
- 1 lb fresh or frozen rice cakes
- 2 tablespoon canola oil
- 3 tablespoon Korean chili paste
- 2 tablespoon ketchup
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon strawberry jam or sweet chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1-2 tablespoon water
- dashes of freshly cracked pepper
- 2 tablespoon finely chopped nuts of your choice
- Insert the skewers through 3-4 fresh rice cakes. If using frozen rice cakes, blanch in hot water until soften, wipe off the water with paper towel, then insert the skewers.
- In a small bowl, combine chili paste, ketchup, garlic, jam (and/or sweet chili sauce), honey, water, and black pepper; mix well . Pour the sauce in a small skillet and boil for 1 minute until slightly thicken. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat and fry the rick cake skewers until crisp and bubbly on the surface, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Brush with the sauce and sprinkle the chopped nut over.
- Serve warm or at room temperature.