Ddukbokki (Spicy Rice Cakes) – The Ultimate Street Food
Ddukbokki is hands down my favorite street food. That’s saying a lot, considering the number of street foods available just in Korea.
When I was in fifth grade, my parents sent me and my brother to Korea to visit my grandparents. That was the last time I had totally authentic Korean street food. But I remember the taste of ddukbokki like it was yesterday. Since then, I had ddukbokki at many (some fancy) restaurants, but none compares to the simple, street-vendor-style ddukbokki I enjoyed so much as a little girl.
When you get ddukbokki from a street vendor in Korea, you simply receive cylindrical rice cakes cooked in spicy sauce – sometimes with fish cakes. Pay a little more, and you get a boiled egg along with the rice cakes. Unbelievably tasty! As much as I love and appreciate meats and vegetables, I like my ddukbokki simple and bare.
Makes 4 servings
1 lb cylindrical rice cakes
3-4 heaping TB gochujang (Korean red chili pepper paste)
1 TB agave nectar or sugar
1 tsp gochugaru (Korean red chili pepper flakes)
2 cups anchovy-dashima stock/broth
boiled and peeled eggs: optional
Before You Cook: Anchovy-dashima stock makes up the base of the sauce for this dish. Although anchovy-dashima stock is preferrable – if you don’t have it on hand or you are a vegan – substitute it with vegetable stock. The taste won’t be the same, but it will be delicious nonetheless.
- Separate the rice cake into individual pieces and soak in cold water for 20+ minutes; this will allow the rice cakes (“dduk”) to absorb some water and become a bit softer (even if it doesn’t appear so).
- If you are including boiled eggs to this dish, boil them now so that they will still be warm when the ddukbokki is ready.
- In a large pan, pour 2 cups of anchovy-dashima stock. Bring it to a boil over medium heat.
- Add the dduk to the stock and cook for about 3 minutes*, while stirring. Add 3-4 tbs of gochujang, 1 tbs of agave or sugar, and 1 tsp gochugaru. Stir to ensure that the seasoning is well dissolved into the stock. Lower the heat.
- To prevent the dduk from sticking to the pan, keep stirring until the dduk has softened and the sauce becomes thicker (5-8 minutes)*. The dduk should be soft, but still chewy. Keep in mind, the sauce will thicken further even after you remove the pan from heat due to the starch from dduk. So, don’t reduce down the sauce too much; because even if the sauce is a little bit waterier than you’d like, it will continue to thicken after it’s done cooking. If the sauce has thickened or reduced too much before the rice cakes have completely softened, add more stock or water.
- If you are using eggs, add the boiled and peeled eggs to the pan towards the end of cooking. Mix well, allowing the eggs to heat through. Remove from heat. Serve while it’s still hot. Dip the boiled eggs in the sauce with each bite. The taste is just heavenly!
* Note: Cooking time largely depends on the type of dduk being used. Frozen dduk – especially if it’s a bit old and, thus, drier – takes considerably longer to cook. I am using packaged frozen rice cakes. These are harder than fresh rice cakes, which is why I soak AND precook them before seasoning is added. If you are cooking with fresh (soft) rice cakes, you can skip both steps – the soaking AND the precooking for 3 minutes before seasoning is added.