Dduk Bbok Ki is the greatest street food ever. This should be on your “to-eat” list if you ever visit Korea. I have a soft spot for Dduk Bbok Ki because I grew up eating them in different corners of Seoul. It protected me from the dreadful cold winter days and awakened my soul after a long school day.
Memories are more beautiful and almost holy, and it has been a burden for me to bring back the perfect taste of Dduk Bbok Ki. I’ve tried many different combination of ingredients and studied different recipes, but it was only the last month that I figured it out finally. The secret is – simplicity and green onions.
Think about it, Dduk Bbok Ki is considered a cheap and fast snack that you can fetch from the street vendors. You can purchase a paper cup of Dduk Bbok Ki for $1 there. Street vendors do not use complicated recipe… In a confined portable cart with limited tools, they need to make it with simple ingredients and serve it cheap. At the end of the day, the secret is slow cooking (they cook Dduk Bbok Ki in the same pan for all day, just adding more rice cakes and seasoning little by little along the way) and exact proportion of seasoning ingredients.
The seasoning has only 3 ingredients: chili pepper paste, chili pepper and sugar. No garlic, no soy sauce and no corn syrup – all of which are considered essential seasoning ingredient for Dduk Bbok Ki. I also do not put onions. All these things contribute different flavors that somehow distracts the strong spicy and sweet flavor you want. Yet the green onions are crucial – you’ll see what I mean when you make the dish.
It is important to add the green onions at the very end of cooking. Also do not add the fish cakes too early.
This is a basic Dduk Bbok Ki that can be adapted into many different ways. You can add any combination of instant noodle, starch noodle, hard boiled egg, sliced cabbage and other vegetables. Your imagination is your limit, but first, let’s get the basics straight.
1 lbs Rice Cakes (dduk 떡)
1 sheet of Fried Fish Cakes (o-deng 오뎅)
1 bundle of Green Onion (pah 파)
15 Dried Anchovies (myul-chee 멸치)
(optional) ½ portion of Starch Noodle (dahang-myun 당면) or Instant Noodle (라면)
2 tablespoons of Chili Pepper Paste (goh-choo-jahng 고추장)
4 teaspoon of Sugar
2 teaspoon of Chili Pepper Flakes (goh-choo-gah-roo 고추가루)
Rice Cakes – Both tube shaped or sliced ones are good. I noted 1 lbs, but or 2 handful amount or a half of the packaged frozen rice cake will do. If frozen, rinse them in cold water and drain. You could leave them in cold water for 5 minutes if you think they are too hard. If chewy, gooey and ready, cut into 2-inch size.
Fish Cakes – Cut into 10 pieces using knife or scissors.
Green Onions – Chop them mercilessly.
1. To make the broth, put dried anchovies and 4 cups of cold water in a pot and boil in medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
2. Discard anchovies.
3. Add rice cakes and seasoning and boil in medium heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid rice cakes sticking to the bottom of the pot. You should see some reduction in liquid after 10 minutes.
4. Add fish cakes and boil another 4 minutes. Add starch noodle or instant noodle now (optional).
5. Let it cook until liquid is reduced and thickened. Add scallions right before turning off the heat. Stir and mix ingredients gently.