Sunday, March 16, 2008

Spicy Beef Rice Cake Dish (Ddeokbokki)

Spicy rice cake dish called ddeokbokki has been the love of my life since I was a little boy old enough to handle spicy food. Thinking about it, I got used to eating spicy food at age 5.  Instead of blaming, I thank my mother for it so now I can enjoy a whole variety of foods including this one.
So this concept of rice cake is pretty weird and foreign to people outside of Korea and Japan.  It’s not really a cake.  Sure, some rice cakes are actually sweet after injecting sugar or flavors into it.  It’s made of rice.  Uncooked rice grains become finely ground and mixed with water.  Then it’s steamed in high heat when it comes molded into certain shapes.  Normally rice cake is a dessert menu but there are several non-entree rice cake dishes including ddeokbokki.
Ddeokbokki is a big street food in Korea.  There are street foods in traditional market places and on the side of streets.  You will always find ddeokbokki vendors.  A lot of them exist near schools because the cart owners know little kids love this.

Ingredients: rice cakes (below picture), half onion, fish cake, beef, green onion, sticky noodles (optional), Korean red pepper paste (2 spoons), thinly ground red pepper flakes, ketchup (2 spoons), minced garlic (1 spoon), corn syrup (2 spoons), salt, sugar, soy sauce (1 spoon), and black pepper
1. The type of rice cake you will need will look like either the flat ones on top or long around ones like in the bottom picture. You will find them from a Korean supermarket.

2. Put the rice cake in cold water if they are dried or frozen as that’s how usually they are sold.  Leave them in water for 20-30 minutes will be quite enough.  Sometimes, you can luck out by finding fresh ones daily delivered from a rice cake factory near cash registers and when you do, you don’t need to put them in water.

3. Then you will need some fishcakes. (Any Asian store should have them.)

4. Noodle is totally optional and you can use different kinds of noodle such as ramen or jolmyun.  I used jolmyun (chewy and thick) as it is a popular choice of noodle addition for this dish.

5. Chop half an onion.

6. Cut some beef. (any type is fine - ribeye, sirloin, tri-tip)
7. So in the beginning, you will need minced garlic, ketchup and Korean red pepper paste.

8. Add the meat and cook the mixture in medium to high heat for a minute and add 1/4 cup of water since it could burn.

9. Add a spoon of soy sauce and sprinkle black pepper into the mixture while heating the mixture.

And some salt
And corn syrup.
Add red pepper power
10. Your sauce will look something like this. Very red!

11. Now you need to add about 2-3 cups of water into the sauce.

12. When the water heats up, add the onion and fishcake.

13. When the mixture starts to boil, add the rice cake and noodle.

14. Make sure you soak them into the mixture and cook in high heat for 3-4 minutes and in medium heat for additional 3-4 minutes. Keep stirring because the rice cake can get stuck to the pan.

15. So this is what it should look like in the end.

For your personal taste, you can add sesame seeds and chopped green onions. Enjoy!

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