Quick ‘n’ Easy Korean Spicy Rice Cakes

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I’ve always had a lot of sympathy for the adage that less is more, as well as a penchant for keeping things simple. And since I love cooking, I love paring down dishes. Trimming away excess is satisfying because I like knowing I’ve been able to identify the essence of something. Plus, under the practical circumstances of daily meal preparation, what’s lost on frills is gained in time and convenience.

For hectic weekday food prep I like to keep around lean versions of recipes, like the one I’d like to share with you today—quick and easy Korean Spicy Rice Cakes, or “tteokbokki.”

Tteokbokki is a popular Korean food made from rice cakes, fish cakes, and Korean hot pepper paste (gochujang). During the Joseon Dynasty, it was a royal court cuisine. Initially, the cakes were served plain, but after the introduction of gochujang, tteokbokki recipes began to incorporate this ingredient widely. These days, most of the tteokbokki sold and consumed around the world is spicy.

The traditional recipe calls for stock, usually made by boiling anchovies. I replaced the anchovy stock with packaged seafood stock because the anchovy variety isn’t widely available and takes longer to make at home. In order to increase the aroma of the dish, I used a Chinese cooking method of stir-frying scallions in hot oil first before adding the seafood stock to the pot. This step takes less than 1 minute but it will be sure to pay off on your palate.

The finished dish is simple, yet absolutely delicious. The rice cakes are chewy and scrumptious, and the fish cakes absorb the aroma of the scallions and the spiciness of the hot pepper paste.

Feel free to comment and let me know what other quick and easy recipes you’d like to see. In the meantime, happy cooking and eating!

Quick ‘n’ Easy Korean Spicy Rice Cakes (Tteokbokki)

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15
Serves: 2

1 pound cylindrical rice cakes
1/2 pound fish cakes
3 scallion stalks, chopped into 1-inch-long pieces
3 cups seafood stock
1/2 cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons oil
Pinch of sesame seeds

In a bowl, combine gochujang, sugar, and water. Mix well.

In a hot pan, heat the oil, then add the scallions and stir until aromatic. Then add seafood stock and the gochujang mixture, and bring to a boil. Add the rice cakes and fish cakes, and stir gently for about 15 minutes until the rice cakes soften and the sauce thickens.

Garnish with sesame seeds and serve hot.

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