|Ddukbokki with a Generous side of Steamed|
Broccoli in the Background
Vegan Mofo #1 - Jessie’s Ddukbokki (Spicy Rice Cakes)
The Region - Korea
The Book - VegNews Magazine August 2013 Edition
The Author - Jessie Miner
The Recipe - Ddukbokki (Spicy Rice Cakes)
Difficulty - Easy
Duration - Roughly 40 minutes. Active time is only about 15 minutes out of those 40.
Even though I initially picked up the latest copy of VegNews for the promise of glorious, mouth-wateringly delicious burgers I found myself instantly drawn to and inspired by Jessie Miner’s article entitled Seoul Food. As I’ve mentioned before Asian Cuisine ranks at the top of world foods that I am most taken by. Asian food is in my blood, if you grow up in Vancouver you undoubtably grow up eating Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian-fusion or South East Asian dishes. Food like this is just a way of life in Vancouver, there’s no getting around it or getting past it. So this type of cuisine is really near and dear to my heart. Even still, I have little to no experience with Korean food and that’s why I found this article so interesting and inspiring. My Korean restaurant experience is limited to a few trips to Korean BBQ houses in Vancouver before I was vegan, and virtually no interaction with Korean Cuisine since moving to the U.S. I have zero experience in cooking Korean food, but this article - and the delicious photo that accompanied it - changed all of that forever.
From everything I’ve heard Seoul is a beautiful, lively, and fun city. South Korea in general just sounds like an amazing place, and it’s a country that I’ve long been interested in visiting. Since I can’t exactly get on a plane and fly to Seoul right now, I thought, why not go for the next best thing and bring Korea to my kitchen? Of course to cook the two Korean recipes offered in Jessie’s article you need a few staple Korean ingredients, and so I was inspired to seek out the Amazing Super H Mart to stalk up.
As much as I love noodles - and as excited as I was to try the Japchae also featured in the article- I was most taken with the Ddukbokki. Just the idea of these strange cylindrical noodle like rice cakes was so compelling, I had to try it right away, and I was not disappointed.
Of course if you’re interested in history, Ddukbokki used to be a popular Korean snack-food that you could by from street vendors. Originally it was only the rice cakes simmered in sauce, then some people started including meat and egg into it, and it was considered a more savory dish. After the Korean War however Ddukbokki changed, and became a spicy dish made with gochujang a spicy fermented paste made from chili peppers. You can get all kinds of Ddukbokki now, ones with meat, ones with whole boiled eggs, some with fish cakes, and some that are more veg heavy, however most of the time the sauce is made with anchovies even if there’s no visible meat. My Korean friend C says that Ddukbokki has become the kind of dish where you basically throw in whatever you have around the house. A real hodgepodge.
This particular hodgepodge of Ddukbokki uses Korean Rice Cakes (garaeddeok), gochujang, sugar, soy sauce, rice cooking wine, salt, gochugaru - which is coarsely ground Korean red pepper flakes - water, green cabbage, onion, baked tofu, scallions and sesame seeds. The rice cakes get soaked for thirty minutes and while that’s happening you can whip together the rest in one big pan. Everything gets simmered for roughly 5 minutes, and then you add the rice cakes and simmer for 10 more, then bam, you have dinner. It’s super easy, and so, so delicious. I mean it really might not sound like much but you will not believe the taste!
Now, if you don’t have - or can’t find - the gochujang you could use a mixture of 1 Tbsp Spicy Garlic Chili Paste - The Chinese variety is most common - plus 1 Tbsp of Red Miso. It will not be the exact same taste, but I think it makes a good substitution for anyone who doesn’t have access to a Korean market. Whether you use gochujang or my miso suggestion you should definitely pick up a copy of the August VegNews and give this dish a try!