It’s not just a confusing jumble of letters, I promise! It’s a tasty Korean street food!
So let me tell you a little about this. While I was in college, I fell in love with Korean TV dramas, and was interested in learning more about the culture and food. Being newly vegetarian, I was initially disappointed that I could not find a vegetarian recipe for this dish, because it looked SOOOO tasty. And then I decided to adapt it myself. I really don’t know if there is a traditional vegetarian adaptation or not.
- 1 pound rice cakes (not the Quaker puffed rice things – you’ll have to go to an Asian market for these)
- 4 cups Vegetable Broth (we use better than bullion)
- 18 oz tofu
- 1/4 head of cabbage
- 4 green onions
- 2 tbsp red pepper paste (gochu-jang. You will have to go to the Asian market for this as well)
- 1 tbsp soybean paste (duen-jang)
- 1 tbsp cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- sesame oil
- sesame seed
If you get the dry rice cakes, soak them 1 hour or overnight. If you get the frozen ones, set them out to thaw for a bit while you prepare everything. Cut the tofu and cabbage into 1.5 inch squares (tofu about a 1/2 inch thick). Cut the green onions about 3/4 of an inch in length.
Boil the veggie broth. When it boils, add the red pepper paste, soybean paste, cayenne pepper, garlic, and sugar. Stir until everything is dissolved. Add the tofu and rice cake. Stir occasionally to keep everything from sticking. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook until the cabbage looks cooked and the tofu looks saturated with broth. Stir frequently.
Turn off the heat and add the green onions, sesame seeds, and sesame oil. (We like a lot of sesame seeds and a fair amount of sesame oil, I suggest starting at about a teaspoon of each and working your way up from there to see what you like best.) Serve immediately.
Notes about this recipe:
This is a spicy dish, but you can easily cut the spice to make it child-friendly or taste-bud friendly by reducing (or cutting entirely) the amount of red pepper paste and cayenne pepper. It changes the flavor, but it is still very tasty.
We like to make this in a double batch so that there are lots of leftovers. Right after cooking, this adaptation is pretty soupy (unlike the traditional version), but after refrigeration it thickens up – and is just as tasty!
The recipe that I adapted this from called for fish cakes instead of tofu, chicken broth, and corn syrup (which I omit entirely). The directions were also, in my opinion, overly complicated and when I simplified them I got the same great-tasting product. I don’t try to claim that I made this recipe all on my own – Ddeokbokki is, like I said, a traditional Korean food. All I did was make it vegetarian/vegan friendly.