When Koreans are old enough to eat spicy food (let’s say elementary school), this is what we start with for a life-long journey of spicy Korean food. Some say that Kimchi is the first spicy food to them and gradually they move on to other spicy foods. To me, it was Ddeok-Boggi that got me into spicy food for the first time. I was sitting on a small wooden chair at a snack bar in front of my elementary school. There were a few of my friends and all of us had a handkerchief pinned to our left side. We were only 8 years old and those handkerchiefs were a requirement of the school so that we could always clean our runny noses. I still remember how spicy it was to me. We all had our hands close to our mouths and tried to create a breeze by shaking them hoping that the small wind would cool down our tongues that were on fire. I have many fond memories of sharing gossip, secrets, and even math problems over a nice bowl of this dish.
Every Korean person has a special memory associated with this dish and boasts about how they cook it better than others. Most people know how to make it by heart but not many people have recipes for this dish because it’s a part of our life. Is it raining outside? Make this dish. Are you getting together with friends? Everybody will ask for the recipe. Are you watching football? It’s a great snack. Don’t know what to make for dinner? One bowl will make your family happy and full. Did you get dumped? What do you think I’m going to say?
Ingredients (4 portions)
Rice Cake: 1.3 Lb (600gm)
Low Sodium chicken stock: 4 cups (32oz)
Fish cake (Eo-mook): 4 sheets (about 3.5 by 5.5 inch)
Green Cabbage: 1/4 head
Green Onion: 4
Red pepper paste (Gochu-jang) : 2 Tbsp
Red pepper powder (Gochu-garu): 1 Tbsp
Soybean paste (Doen-jang): 1 Tbsp
Garlic: 2 Cloves
Corn Syrup: 3 Tbsp
Sugar: 1 Tbsp
Sesame Oil: 1 tsp
Roasted sesame seeds: 1 tsp
1. I want to show you what kind of rice cake and fish cake you should get. For rice cakes, chose the ones about 2 inches in length and thickness of a finger. For fish cake, you can find flat ones as shown in the second photo.
2. Submerge the rice cakes in water for about an hour and drain. You can also blanch them in a pot of boiling water very briefly for about 10 seconds and drain.
3. Cut the fish cakes in squares of 1.5 inch length. Cut cabbage into a similar size as the fish cakes. Cut Green Onions in 2-inch lengths.
4. Prepare all 8 different seasonings. Garlic needs to be minced.
5. In a pan, boil chicken stock at very high heat. When chicken stock boils, add red pepper paste, red pepper powder, garlic, corn syrup, sugar, and soy bean paste. Stir well until everything dissolves. Occasionally, skim the foam. Don’t reduce the heat.
6. Add rice cakes and fish cakes. Once it starts boiling again stir with a spoon occasionally to prevent rice cakes from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You’ll see the rice cakes getting softer, fluffy, and chubby from absorbing the liquid. Continue stirring. The liquid should reduce by 1/3 and look thicker due to the starch from rice cakes. Total cooking time of rice cake and fish cake till this point is about 5 minutes.
7. Add cabbage and stir for 1 minute. From now on, stir continuously. Be careful not to burn the rice cake on the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and add green onions. Mix it all together. Give it a last touch by adding sesame oil and sesame seeds. Mix well.