Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Cooking Momofuku, Day 1: Roasted Red Rice Cakes

Dok Boki are a perfect food. This Korean dish consists of chewy rice cakes lathered with a spicy/sweet/salty sauce. I had made these previously, using a combination of red Korean paste and sugar. They were good, but didn't blow me away.

And then were one of the first items that my co-cook and I wanted to pull off from the Momofuku cookbook. We knew we could fake the recipe and mix up some miso and chili sauce, or we could go all the way and seek out "Ssamjang" or Korean bean and chili paste.(**In the picture below, it is the green box. The brown box is "damjang" which is simply Korean bean paste.) Lucky for us, the incredible H-Mart (a chain of Korean supermarkets/food heaven) had opened up nearby. Two hours later we had all the fixings for a few batches of David Chang's, "Roasted Red Rice Cakes."
Two makes these you need a few critical things. First, you do need "ssamjang" for the most authentic flavor. We also tried to find a brand without MSG.

Next, you need rice cakes. They are available dry on the shelf, or frozen. Go for frozen and you can have fun choosing among the shapes and sizes.
These are are a perfect food for parents. Just throw some in to boil and you have a healthy meal for kids, especially if you toss in some edamame or tofu. (For kids with allergies, these are gluten-free, too!)

I have always made this dish by simply boiling the rice cakes, but Chang has you sear them on a cast iron, which adds a completely fabulous crunch.
The other Chang twist? "Roasted Onions." I glanced at the recipe and saw the dreaded words "50 minutes." We hesitated. We both are comfortable caramzelizing onions. How different could his recipe be? We also were skeptical that we needed them. But, we had time and we are always up for something new.

Um...Chang's "Roasted Onions?" They are revelatory. If you follow his method exactly (which really isn't that hard and just requires a cast iron pan), you end up with this glorious mass of seared, bitter, sweet onions that are nothing like any caramelized onions I have had.
And they added a key note to the dish, preventing it from being to sweet.

This dish is becoming a new staple at my house.

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