Food Hipster at Home: Ddeokbokki

Tteokbokki, also known as Ddeokbokki is a popular Korean snack food which is commonly purchased from street vendors…Following the Korean War a new type of tteokbokki became very popular. While the older version was a savory dish, this latter type was much more spicy, and quickly became more popular than the older traditional dish. In addition to traditional ingredients, this tteokbokki usedgochujang, a hot paste made from chilli peppers, along with fish cakes. Other ingredients added to tteokbokki include boiled eggs, pan-friedmandu (Korean dumplings), sausages, ramyeon (which then becomes rabokki/labokki 라볶이), and cheese. These days, many kinds of tteokbokki are popular such as seafood tteokbokki(해물 떡볶이) or rice tteokbokki(쌀떡볶이).

As I’ve mentioned several times before, I have spice issues. I used to be a serious punk when it came to spicy food. When I was younger I wouldn’t go within five feet of a bottle of hot sauce. As I grew up my tolerance for spiciness increased, but most of the time it just seemed like I was eating things that were spicy but had no flavor.

Enter gochujang.

Ever since I’ve gotten into Korean food my spice tolerance has shot through the roof. Nothing is spicy enough. When I’m out food gets doused in sirracha. When I cook at home I often add extra hot pepper paste and red pepper flakes just to see if I can take it.  I’ve been known to make a bowl of ramyun that can make me choke and sweat from the first bite.

It burns so good.

In that spirit, tonight I made ddeokbokki. I randomly got a craving for the dish, even though I’ve never had it. But I’m familiar with rice cakes (LOVE) and epic spiciness (duh) so my brain knew what I wanted to eat. Good on ya, brain.

Ddeokbokki is, by my standards, a fairly simple dish. You get some delicious tube shaped rice cakes (ddeok), green onions, dried anchovies (more on that later), hot red pepper paste, and hot red pepper flakes, and basically throw it all together. As with lots of Korean dishes different people add different things to their ddeokbokki. Tonight I went with stir fried fish cake (since i have some I need to use) and shiitake mushrooms. I’ve read about folks adding mandu, ramyun noodles, eggs, and on and on.

I need to take a moment here and explain just how much I was NOT looking forward to dealing with these anchovies. I’ve skipped them in SO MANY recipes, and I always feel like something is missing but….ew. These motherfuckers still have EYES, son! They look at you like “you know this is fucked up, right?” Also, in order to use big ones likes these (the preferred size for soup/stock making) you have to remove the head (ok easy enough right?) and the intestines.

The what!? How am I supposed to know what a anchovy intestine looks like? *sigh* But, apparently leaving the intestines in is bad juju (it’ll make whatever you’re cooking bitter) so I did some googling and managed to make myself do it while thinking the whole time “what is my life? I’m picking out dried fish shit alone on a Sunday night”.

Sorry guise.

I’m going to have nightmares about this.

Moving along, once you’ve gutted the little fuckers (and stabbed yourself a few times on their teeny tiny vengeful little bones) toss ‘em into a pan with water and let it boil for about ten minutes to make a quick stock (warning: anchovy stock makes your apartment smell gross). After that its simple. Remove the anchovies, toss in the ddeok, a little sugar, red pepper paste, red pepper flakes, and green onions. At this point I added the fish cake (which I cut into not geometrically correct triangles) and shiitake mushrooms. Cook, stirring constantly (to keep the ddeok from sticking to your pan) until the sauce has has thickened and, if you’re me, your eyes are watering.

Bubble bubble toil and trouble. I take it as a good sign when your food looks angry.

Nice and thick and ready to set your insides on fire.

Make yourself large quantities of some cold beverage and dig in.

Next time I’m gonna make it way spicier though. My lips only burned for like twenty minutes, tops. Weaksauce.

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