I really enjoy Korean food. I suppose this recipe could of been placed for the “share your favorite cuisine” prompt on day 25, but this recipe is so simple! I am not the type of person who does “quick” and “easy” unless it is re-heating older dishes. I can tell you right now that this isn’t a “healthy” recipe. I am not sure what the health benefits are outside of the carrot.
If you aren’t familiar with Korean food you probably have never heard of this dish. If you are going to a Korean restaurant in the US, you probably would get served these as an appetizer. But in Korea they are often served in street stalls and speciality restaurants. At the speciality restaurants it is usually that you order a big serving of rice cakes (according to your party) and order add ins. I first was introduced to this concept from the Korean show Let’s Eat. The main character Soo-kyung orders a big pan of Ddukbokgi (spicy rice cakes) with ramen, and lots of other non-vegan foods. It is a great scene to sell the dish with all or orgasmic moaning and all.
This recipe is super simple, you can make it on the fly for yourself for lunch or as a starter. But you can easily make a more sustainable meal by doing the add ins. Traditional add ins aren’t really vegan, eggs, fish cakes, blood sausage, mandu (pork dumplings) and cheese. But some options are vegan like ramen noodles, rice, and fried batter. You can sub some vegan versions of the food like some daiya cheese, vegan sausages, veggie dumplings, and fried tofu. Look, I never said this stuff was healthy. This Korean COMFORT food.
Now, let’s talk ingredients! Although this is simple to cook (sauté carrots and rice cakes, then boil in a spicy sauce) the ingredients might seem a little foreign if you don’t have easy access to asian food market. The ingredients that will be hard to find are the rice cakes and gochujang. Gochujang is a thick paste made from fermenting chili peppers. I wrote about it on the blog, and give a recipe for cheaters gochujang. Gochujang is starting to pick up in popularity, and I was able to pick up a pack at Wegman’s!
The rice cakes are fairly common in lots of other asian cuisines. You can buy them in a log to slice, or you can get them precut. They can come in many different shapes, like these flat ovals that I used, little spheres, or long logs. There are even novelty shapes like stars, but they tend not to be available in the US. (if you want a sneak peak at the fun shapes, you can check out this REALLY old Eat Your Kimchi video) Try going to HMart, which specializes in specifically Korean foods. But most Asian food markets should have rice cakes. They need to be refrigerated (which is why they are hard to buy online), so check in those sections. And keep in mind mochi is different from the rice cakes for this recipe. Mochi is usually sold sweetened. If you are worried, check the ingredients.
So start with this simple recipe, and next time, jazz it up. Add sausages, some soy cheese, more veggies, whatever your mind can think of. This is seriously a yummy meal, and quick to make.