Thursday, July 3, 2008
Contrary to popular beliefs (and this blog), I don't just eat sweets. Cooking is therapeutic for me, and in most cases, a lot less stressful than baking. With the specific chemistry involved in baking, missing a little of this or that could mean the difference between a beautifully puffed cake and a flat piece of cardboard (believe me, I've done that). I like the flexibility and forgiving nature of cooking, as well as its proclivity for creative experimentation.
Truth be told, I never had much Korean food before I came to Berkeley. But since I'm now part of a Korean martial arts team, headed by a very Korean master, surrounded by Korean teammates, it's a guarantee that most meals out are going to be Korean food. Not that I mind. One of my favorite restaurants in this area is little hole-in-the-wall place with barred front doors next to "Big Daddy's Chinese Restaurant" (no kidding). I think I had ddeokbokki for the first time there. Ddeokbokki is a homey dish of sauteed rice cake in a spicy sauce. The soft and chewy ddeok are colored a brillant red from the gochugang paste, tamed by the sweet from brown sugar and tang from tomato sauce. Since cooking is a method, I didn't provide a detailed recipe. I urge you to experiment with your own sauce and to create one with a balanced flavor that you like. Also, you can toss in whatever meats and vegetables you would like. This is a rustic dish, and everyone makes it a little differently.
Rice cake or stick
sliced green onions
fish cake, chicken, or other meats
gochujang (1.5:1 ratio with sugar)
If using meat, slice thinly and marinate in soysauce and cooking wine (enough to moisten). Add corn starch to coat (this will make a protective coating for the meat to keep it tender when cooking). Heat oil in a pan, add in meat and saute until 85% cooked. Remove.
Add more oil if needed and saute onions, cabbage, and garlic for a minute. Add in rice cake and cook for an additional minute. In the mean time, mix together gochujang, sugar, ketchup and soysauce. Add to cooking rice cakes. Add in sliced fish cakes (if using) or meat and cook for an additional minute. Finally toss in the green onions and cook for another 30 seconds. The rice cakes should be soft but not mushy and the vegetables and meat cooked.