Ever since I can remember, I have always loved rice cakes. They can be sweet or savory, put into soups, stir-fry’s, served as desserts or simply dipped in soy sauce – I would eat them in any shape or form. One of the main reasons that I want to visit Korea is to try fresh rice cakes…aside from visiting the tourist spots, of course. If I don’t have my rice cake every couple of months, I will crave it every day until I do, and mind you, I am not a pleasant person to be around until I get my fix! It was around that time again when I felt those cravings creeping in, so I decided to make the ultimate Korean street food, rabboki. This dish is a spin on ddukboki, mixing spicy rice cakes with ramen! Add some spam and you have comfort food at its best. You’ll want to make a big batch of this dish, trust me!
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Rice cakes are the comfort food of Korean cuisine, and rightly so. They are dense, chewy, sweet and spicy. They are great as a late night snack, mid-afternoon, dinner, lunch, pretty much any time of the day. Ask any Korean on the street about rice cakes, and they will be able to share their nostalgic memories of their mother preparing this dish.
When purchasing rice cakes, they are often sold fresh or frozen. Frozen rice cakes need to be soaked in water for 30 minutes before cooking, to soften the dough. Use the fresh rice cakes immediately before it begins to dry and harden.
You may come across different rice cakes shapes as well, long cylindrical rice cakes and ovalettes. Most often, the ovalettes are used for soups while the cylindrical shapes are for the stir-fried dish, ddukbokgi.
You can make this dish vegetarian or add a salty protein like spam. Not a fan of spam? Try ham!
Some of the sauce ingredients may sound foreign but they can all be found in local Asian markets. Gochujang is a Korean chili paste; depending on the brand, some may be spicier than others. The black bean paste is the same paste used to prepare the popular Chinese-Korean noodle dish, jja jang myun. Brown rice syrup is similar to corn syrup in that they are both sugaring agents; however, one is made from rice and the other from corn. If you can’t find brown rice syrup, substitute with corn syrup.
Although there are spicy and non-spicy versions of ddukbokgi, rabboki is prepared with a spicy sauce. The spiciness helps balance the heaviness of the dish. I had a special request to put chive wontons into the dish (carbs on carbs on carbs!) so I added them in for good measure.
While I can eat ddukbokgi any day, rabboki is reserved for those special days when I truly want comfort Korean food. Ramen noodles with soft, chewy rice cakes with salty spam, sweet onions, and carrots all cooked in a spicy sauce? I’m drooling just thinking about it! If you never had Korean food before, this dish would be a great one to introduce you to the cuisine. Go ahead, give it a try!
Looking for someone to come to your house and prepare these dishes for you? It is possible! If you are in Los Angeles and looking for a private chef, please feel free to contact me. For more information, visit Private Kitchen Los Angeles.