Everyone has their own childhood food cravings. It is the food they grow up with and it reminds you the memories of the past as you eat them. I grow up eating lots…, I mean lots of this dish. This is one of my favorite snacks when I was a teenager (I have lots of other favorites, too). This dish is called Ddukppoki (떡볶이), the spicy Korean rice cakes.
As a teenage girl in middle/high school(I attended girls only school, no boys there except teachers), I had to wear school uniforms, white blouse with black overall skirt and navy canvas shoes. The skirt should cover your knees completely. No girls liked wearing uniforms. There was no unique individual style whatsoever. Every girl looked exactly the same, only different in sizes.
Our school had very strict rules over its dress code. Not only the dress, the hair style too. Every one had a exact same hair style. A simple black hair pin on one side of your head to hold the hair and the straight hair line that should sit just below your ears. No more than 1″ below the ears! No bangs, No make up, and No perms are allowed. If you violate any of this, you will get kicked out of school, period! There are lots of fun stories that associated with this dress/hair code, but I will share the stories some other time.
Things change! Korean school girls these days still wear uniforms but they get to have free hair styles and some even wears make up. I don’t think I ever showed my teenage photos to my piano man. I looked hideous on the photo, and every girl did look horrendous as well, whether they are very pretty or less pretty. It is the one evidence of my past that I would like to bury on the ground forever!
Anyway, somehow the subject matter(the food) went to a different direction. Let’s talk about this rice cake. This is the ultimate snack(can be a meal) for all Korean teenagers or anybody. I won’t be lying if I say 50million Koreans grow up eating this dish. As teenagers we were always hungry when school was over in the late afternoon. There was a big market square on the way to our neighborhood from the school. My friends and I often stopped by one of these rice cake vendors and stuffed our belly with this spicy goddess, the soft yet chewy rice cakes slobbered with spicy chili paste gochujang sauce!…. along with other things such as deep fried calamaris, vegetable fritters(Tuigim, 튀김), fish cakes(Odeng, 오뎅), etc… They were so tasty as I am thinking back and I crave them often these days.<
So I would like to share with you how you can recreate this dish at your own kitchen. This can be quite spicy if you are not used to the spicy Korean food. Burning sensation in your mouth! Besides serving this dish can be a good way to revenge your husband or boyfriend who forgot the important date… Let him burn!
Korean chili paste, sugar, dried sea kelp, dried anchovies, garlic, leek, cabbage.
The stock will get more intensified as you let it sit, about 15 minutes.
Remove our ocean friends from the pot.
The queen of Korean flavors! My royal highness!
If you don’t want the oil…
This is an optional step.
Dice the cabbage beautifully like I did.
Slice the leek as you’re humming like a bird.
Chop the garlic as you hit the high note on O Sole Mio!
If he forgot your birthday…, then add 6Tbsp or more!
Smear the paste with spoon to mix in with the stock.
Add sugar and mix well.
Place the pan over medium heat. Add rice cakes and cabbage.
The sauce will get slightly thicken, too.
until the sauce gets really thickened for your liking.
Add the leek and mix in well.
It will bring subtle tang to the sauce and adds beautiful deep orange color.
Stir them well and it is ready to serve.
and thought about my high school friends.
Where are they now?
An important Korean vocabulary to learn!
But don’t you dare to call me Ajumma!
Spicy Korean Rice Cakes (Tteokppoki)
- 4 1/2 C water
- 8-10 dried anchovies
- 1 piece dried sea kelp (dashima) about 4" long
- 1 1/3 lb 600g rice cakes, usually comes as frozen
- 4-5 T Korean red chili paste gochujang
- 3 T sugar
- 3 slices flat fish cakes cut into big chunks optional
- 1/2 cabbage diced
- 1 leek white and light green part sliced
- 1 garlic chopped
- 1-2 T ketchup optional
- 1 t sesame seeds roasted
- dash pepper
- To make stock pour water in a pot, and add anchovies and sea kelp. Boil first and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for another 10-15 minutes to get the full flavor. Reserve 4 cups.
- Soak the rice cake in the water for 5 minutes. If you want to get rid of the coated oil, blanch them in the boiling water for 30 seconds.
- Pour the stock to a non stick pan and add the chili paste and sugar. Mix well. Add rice cakes and cabbage. Boil over medium heat, reduce heat to medium-low, simmer uncovered until the cabbage gets soften and the sauce gets thicken.
- Add the fish cakes, if you wish, and garlic. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes until the sauce gets well thickened to your liking.
- Add ketchup and stir well. Sprinkle some peppers and sesame seeds. Good to serve hot right out of pan. Napkins are a must!