Ddeokbokki is a dish often sold from snack stands in Korea. It's... well, it's Korean hangover food, enjoyed late at night after partying. While I do think this would be fantastic after a night of drinking (and I have done my fair share of drinking, so I should know), I associate this dish more with comfort. It falls in the same category for me as chili, beef stew, etc. It's a dish the Korean in me wants when Fall comes around. In its most basic form, it's simply Korean rice cakes sliced and braised in a sauce. There are many variations, though. I like mine with meat and some veggies added.
Get about 3-4 cloves of garlic, and about an inch of fresh ginger. Mince those up (or bust them up in a mortar and pestal). Then, add some of the magic ingredient:
This is gochujang. It's a mixture of chiles, rice flour and soybeans. The mixture is allowed to ferment for a long time, and this is the result. It's actually not overly spicy, although it does have a bit of spice to it. Mostly, though, it adds an incredible depth of flavor. I actually add this to my chili sometimes.
You can find gochujang in any Korean supermarket.
Cube up around a pound of pork (pork sirloin or shoulder both work here - choose something a bit on the fattier side). Mix that with 3 heaping spoonfuls of gochujang, the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, a tsp of sugar, and a few healthy dashed of rice vineger. I like to let the mixture marinade in the fridge for a few hours, but, since it'll braise in the mixture, it's not absolutely necessary.
Crank up the heat on a wok and add some high heat friendly oil (e.g. peanut oil). Let the oil smoke a bit, otherwise known as "disfiguringly hot", and add your pork. Cook that til you don't see any raw pork.
These are Korean rice cakes:
While they are called "cakes", they're actually pretty chewy. As a kid we used to dip these into a bowl of brown sugar and eat them. Delicious. The flavor of them is very mild, almost non-existent, but they take on other flavors really well. Cut these up into chunks, then add them to the pork mixture. Pop a lid on it, reduce the heat to medium-low, and let it cook for about 20 minutes. When that's done, remove it to a bowl, crank the heat back up to high, and add in some chopped napa cabbage:
Once it's cooked (slightly wilted), add your pork and rice cake mixture back in, along with some chopped green onion, and a healthy dose of toasted sesame seeds. If you like it spicier, add in some crushed Korean pepper, too.
Now go nurse that hangover.
Feel free to adjust the amounts of ingredients. If you want less meat, use more cabbage and/or rice sticks. Rice sticks can also be found frozen, and are usually pre-sliced. If you can't find rice sticks, just serve this with rice.
1/2lb pork sirloin or pork shoulder
1/2 head napa cabbage5 fresh rice cakes, or a large double-handful of the sliced frozen ones
1 small bunch green onions, roughly chopped
1/4c toasted sesame seeds
3 heaping tbsp gochujang
2tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 heaping tbsp Korean crushed red pepper (or more)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped and crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
Cube the pork. Mix together the pork, garlic, ginger, sugar, rice vinegar and soy sauce. Let this marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Heat a wok over high heat. Add peanut oil. Stir in pork. Cook until no raw pork can be seen. Cover and reduce to medium low. Let mixture cook 20 minutes. Remove mixture to a bowl.
Add more oil and allow the wok to return to high heat. Add napa cabbage. Add salt and pepper. Cook until the cabbage is just wilted. Add pork mixture back in, along with green onion and sesame seeds. Stir to combine. Check seasoning, and adjust it with salt and pepper to taste.
Mango: I got gochunjang on my fingers.
Panda: Well, don't pick your nose then, or you're gonna have a bad time.