Oh JoyOh Joy

{make it} roasted korean rice cakes...


I was first introduced to Korean food in the 5th grade from some of my best childhood friends. I'd go over to their house after school to do homework, and we'd feast on their mom's home cooking of leftover's from the night before. I had grown up on Thai food from my parents, so this new kind of Asian cuisine was a fun departure from what I was used to. Little did I know that six years later, in 11th grade, these same friends would be the reason I'd meet my future husband, Bob...and have a life full of great Korean food through him and my extended family.

One of my favorite Korean dishes of all time is Dok Boki...rice cakes cooked in a spicy sauce. It's hard to find at the average Korean restaurant or Korean BBQ place as it's often considered a bar food best served with beer. So anytime I can find it, it's instantly part of my order. The combination of spicy, sweet, savory, and chewy gets me every time. Earlier this year, I had the best Dok Boki I've ever had at Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York. While I never thought anything could beat my mother-in-law's version, I love this one a tiny bit more simply because the rice cakes are grilled which adds one more layer of texture on top of everything else!

The other night, I had a serious hankering for Dok Boki, so we whipped some up with the ingredients we had on hand using David Chang's recipe from the Momofuku cookbook. We didn't have everything specified in the recipe so some were left out, and it still turned out super tasty. If you have the book, we basically just made the red dragon sauce. Here's how...

You'll need:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup ssämjang {Korean fermented bean chile sauce usually comes in a red rectangular tub. Update...just realized we used Gochujang which is a bit more spicy and more concentrated because we didn't have ssämjang}

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 teaspoon of sherry vinegar {didn't have sherry so we used white balsamic vinegar}

1 teaspoon of Asian sesame oil

2 tablespoons of grape seed oil

Rice Cake Sticks {we used the frozen tubular kind}

1 tablespoon of sesame seeds

optional: 1/4 roasted onions {didn't have onions but I'd add this next time}

Here's how:

— Make the sauce by bringing the water and sugar to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes, then stir in the ssämjang to dissolve it. Stir in the soy, vinegar, and sesame oil and taste the sauce. No one flavor should stand out, but all should be present and accounted for. Cover and keep warm over low heat.

— If you have frozen rice cakes, cook in boiling water for a few minutes until al dente but not too soft {They'll continue to cook when grilled}. Heat a large cast-iron skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the grapeseed oil to pan, and add rice cakes just when it's about to smoke. They should sizzle when they hit the oil, then drop heat to medium. Sear for 3 minutes per side until a light golden brown.

— Bring the sauce back to a boil and toss the rice cakes in the sauce for a few seconds until evenly coated. Divide rice cakes into bowls and then sprinkle with sesame seeds. Remember, this dish is spicy and best served and enjoyed with other more mild dishes!


{photo by Oh Joy, recipe adapted from Momofuku cookbook}