There were times when the prepackaged ddukboki shrinkwrapped in plastic successfully seduced me. It was always stacked next to the cashier – red and glistening – waiting to get picked up and taken home. Like a bad date, it always disappointed – either with too much heat and not enough flavor, or the rice cakes were overcooked, or worse, undercooked. The last time I had really great ddukboki was about 20 years ago in Seoul. It was from a food cart on some street in some neighborhood, but it was perfectly spicy, warm, and chewy.
I can’t remember the last time I tried to make this dish, but was inspired to make this dish after seeing a tweet by @justcooknyc a few weeks ago. My perfect ddukboki is heavy on the meat, light on the veggies, and one that has heat that doesn’t slap you in the face, but gradually warms you. Real comfort food.
There is a version that is less spicy and is abundant with vegetables that my mom often made for us, but I prefer the spicy street version!
Yields about 2-3 servings
8-10 ounces of rice cakes (the cylindrical stick version)
4-6 ounces of fish cakes
About 2 tablespoons of cooking oil
1/2 pound of ground pork
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons of minced garlic
2 teaspoons of minced ginger
1/4 cup of kochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
5 stalks green onions, cut into 2-inch lengths
1/4 – 1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 – If your rice cakes and fish cakes are frozen, soak them in water for about 20 minutes to thaw them out.
2 – Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add pork. Once the pork starts to brown, add the garlic, ginger, salt and green onions. Cook until pork is fully cooked and browned.
3 – Add kochujang and stir until pork is coated. Set aside.
4 – Drain the rice and fish cakes and transfer to a medium sized saucepan. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil.
5 – Meanwhile reheat the pork mixture over medium heat. With a slotted spoon, transfer rice and fish cakes to the skillet with pork. Do not throw the water out just yet. Add at least 1/4 cup of the reserved water to the skillet. Bring to a simmer and let cook for 2-3 minutes.
6 – Take off heat. Stir in sesame seeds and sesame oil
7 – Serve immediately.