When we were down in Orange County a couple of weekends ago, we stopped by at Ranch99 to pick up a few Asian goodies. Where we live, it’s hard to find Asian ingredients, so I was pretty stoked to stock up so I can cook more Asian food at home. I also bought these addictively chewy Korean rice cakes so I can make one of my favorite Korean dishes – rice cakes in a spicy red sauce. This was my first try at this dish, and it turned out pretty good. The chewy rice cakes are not everyone’s favorite, but I happen to just LOVE them!
I miss being able to go to a Korean restaurant whenever I want (ie. when I lived in Toronto). Personally I think that Korean food is one of the few cuisines where Korean home cooking is quite similar to what is served in restaurants. I love the homey (and spicy) soups and stews, just perfect for a cold winter day. Of course, it’s not winter right now – and in California the sun is bright and the air is fresh outside my window this morning. But anytime is right for good food, and these Korean rice cakes aren’t as steamy as a soup or stew, making it perfect for anytime you’re craving a little spicy.
Since I wanted an authentic recipe, I followed Beyond Kimchee’s version, which includes making a stock of seaweed and dried anchovies. Not having seaweed or dried fish in my repertoire, I substituted homemade chicken stock instead, and it still turned out good. I also didn’t have fish cakes, but I didn’t miss them. I used Napa cabbage instead of regular cabbage, though I think either would work well. I also reduced the sugar, as it was a little too sweet for my taste.
Spicy Korean Rice Cakes
Adapted closely from Beyond Kimchee
3 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken stock
1 package (about 600g) Korean rice cakes
4 tbsp gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 medium Napa cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 leek, cleaned and sliced (white and light green parts only)
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
In a medium bowl, soak the rice cakes in hot tap water to separate them and remove the oily coating, for about 5 minutes.
Heat the stock over medium heat. When simmer, add the gochujang (red chili paste) and sugar, stirring well until dissolved. Add rice cakes and cabbage and bring mixture back to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until cabbage and rice cakes are tender, about 10 minutes. Add leeks and garlic and continue simmering until sauce is reduced and thickened, another 5-10 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in the ketchup and pour the rice cakes into a shallow dish. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve hot.