A cultural memory wrapped in a rice cake

ddokboki.jpg

It’s a blustery day, the cold Autumn wind chafing my cheeks and turning my fingers into frozen little fishsticks despite my gloves. School’s finished for the day, and arm in arm with my girlfriends, we go racing down the path from our school to a tiny little shopfront just next door. The glass door has fogged up and hides the crowds of students who’ve beaten us here, laughing and talking while munching on all manner of cheap, freshly made eats. This is fast food, Korean-style, and anybody who has spent even a year in Korea will be familiar with this scene.

South Korea is technically still an occupied country, with American military posts and G.I.s all over the place…and with them, they have brought many of their own fast food chains such as T.G.I.F.s and Bennigans selling everything from burgers to Caesar salads to Monte Christo sandwiches (I had a friend who was SO in love with Bennigans M.C. sandwiches that he would order it every single time we went there. He didn’t even look at the menu – just ordered his beloved deep fried hunk without batting an eyelid every time). However, these American-flavour dishes tend to be a bit too expensive for your average student’s pocket (thank GOD!), and thus after school every day, students all over the country gather at these tiny little ‘boonshik jyohm’ (snack food houses) to have a veritable feast shared between friends for the cost of just a few dollars.

Korean street food

One of the most famous dishes, and one that can definitely be found at ANY snack food house without fail is this humble dish called ‘ddukboki‘. It doesn’t really count as a ‘recipe’ as such, as it’s far too simple for that, but everyone has their own version and its heat and satisfying heaviness provide for a decent after school meal to tide you between then and dinner.

It’s a simple dish, with essentially nothing more but rice cakes and fish cake as its ingredients. You can add a little onion and a boiled egg if you like, but it’s certainly not necessary and not the main feature of the dish by any means. Though this is meant to be a quick and easy dish to put together, the ingredients that it uses are ones typically found in a Korean kitchen, so you may need to visit your local Chinese/Korean grocery store in order to find things like gochujjang (Korean chilli paste, which can’t really be substituted with anything else) and dashi powder.

My mother has made this dish many times throughout my life, and when we sit down to eat together, she sighs and giggles, sharing stories of enjoying this dish with her girlfriends back when she was a teenager. And I, in turn, grin and enjoy the moment with her.

Korean street food

Ddukboki
(serves about 2-3, depending on how hungry you are!)

Ingredients
2 cups water
2 heaped tbsp gochujjang (Korean chilli paste)
2 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp dashi powder
1 onion, halved and sliced (we were out of onions this day so none in the photo!)
2 sheets fried fishcake (also known as odeng), sliced into strips
500g rice cake sausages (dduk), soaked in boiling water still softened then drained
2 green/spring onions, cleaned and sliced
2 boiled eggs

1. In a large, deep frying pan, stir together the water, corn syrup, sugar and dashi powder till all is dissolved.

2. Add the sliced onion, egg, fried fishcake strips and rice cake pieces to the frying pan and simmer for a few minutes, stirring to ensure that the thickening sauce coats everything properly.

3. Once the sauce has thickened and the rice cakes are soft all the way through, serve on a plate, sprinkle the sliced spring onions on top and enjoy while steaming hot :)

[tags]Korean cuisine, food, dduk, Asian food, recipes, street food[/tags]

Comments

  1. YUM!>< looks amazing, can't wait to try it out!!!!!

    i've done lots of experimenting with deokbokki and other dishes and i absolutely love it, thanks so much for this recipe i'm going to try it out:)

    i live in Australia as well, which state do you live in? would you be able to recommend any restaurants in victoria,mlbourne?^^

  2. YUM!>< looks amazing, can't wait to try it out!!!!!
    i've done lots of experimenting with deokbokki and other dishes and i absolutely love it, thanks so much for this recipe i'm going to try it out:)
    i live in Australia as well, which state do you live in? would you be able to recommend any restaurants in victoria,mlbourne?^^

  3. @Cindy – there’s quite a few good Korean restaurants in Melbourne, but each specializes in something different so it’s better if you can email me and let me know what sort of dishes you’re wanting and what sort of atmosphere you’re after :)

  4. Thanks for the recipe! Usually, I buy it at the Korean market, but I liked making it at home better, because I can make smaller servings (and it’s cheaper). I stuck to your recipe besides adding more gochujang (to make it spicier), and adding a little corn starch instead of corn syrup (because I don’t have syrup at home right now).

    It was great!

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