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Korean Fish Cake – Discover this very tasty comfort Food [with Recipe]

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Seafood is popular in most Asian countries and South Korea is no exception. Soups, cakes, and pastries will often incorporate meat sourced from the sea. As more people discover the delicacies cooked in Korean Kitchens, these foods have become part of the street food culture. The result is a surge in interest in what Korea has to offer the world in the culinary space. Korean Fish Cake is a mixture of groundfish mixed with various ingredients and flour. This mixture is then put on wooden skewers before it is boiled in broth. The smell and look of this popular delicacy have made it one of the iconic foods in Korea. It is eaten as a snack, appetizer, or dessert although it tastes great on its own.

 

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Korean Fish Cake Street Food (Origin and Curiosities)

It is difficult to place an exact date on when the fish cake became Korean. However, before delving into the mystery of its origin, it is important to note that there are two types of fish cake in Korea. The first is known as “odeng” and the other as “eomuk”. At a glance, they appear similar although, they are prepared differently and do not share a history.

Eomuk is a Korean word that refers to the fish cake made from ground fish mixed with other ingredients to form a dough.  Odeng on the other hand is believed to have a Japanese origin.  The mashed fish meal usually has eggs and vegetables. It is then shaped into a long flat shape before it is skewered.

Legend has it that a Japanese ruler loved having fish but would be bothered by having to remove the bones as he was eating. If he found the tiny bones too bothersome, he would have the chef executed. To get around this problem, one ingenious chef came up with a solution. He ground up the bones with the fish before cooking. The result was a satisfied ruler, a chef that managed to retain his head on his neck, and appreciative diners around the world.

When Japan had colonized Korea, their workers brought their culinary preferences. However, the method of crushing fish before shaping it was noted as during the Qi dynasty in China. Documents from Joseon times provide royal protocol on how to make a similar fish cake It can therefore be said that fish cakes as cooked in Korea have been influenced by Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cooking.

The fish cake is now recognizable as part of regular Korean Street food that you find being sold in carts all over Seoul. Frozen versions of this cake can also be bought in stores. However, nothing beats the authenticity of the street food.

 

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Korean Fish Cake Tteokbokki

The Ttteokbokki  is a Korean cake made of rice. These cakes are cylindrical and are stir-fried into a thick sauce. It is part of the popular street food culture and a visit to Korea would be incomplete without sampling this iconic dish. Other ways of spelling the dish are ddeokbokki or ddukbokki. The rice cakes are known as garaettoek locally.

What sets tteokbokki apart is its versatility. Often cooked to a fiery spicy food, you can tone it down by replacing some of the hotter pepper. The broth used in boiling tteokbokki can also be replaced by water for a less flavourful dish.

To prepare your Korean fish cake tteokbokki you need to have a pound of rice cakes.  You can easily get these from the frozen section or prepare some at home. You will also need 100g of eomuk (fish cake). Other ingredients will depend on what spicy preferences you have.

I would suggest you try variants of the dish by adding chopped cabbage, shitake mushrooms, or onions to the rice fish cakes. To make the sauce, you will need anchovy stock which usually comes in powder form. For lesser flavor, water will do instead.

Other than the fish cakes and rice cakes, the ttoekbokki can also feature hard-boiled eggs ramen noodles, cheese, and dumplings. In addition, though a thick sauce is a norm, there is no reason why you should not have yours soupy if you prefer it that way.

To get the tastebuds sizzling and give the ttoekbokki an authentic Korean taste,  add three tablespoons of red chili paste (gochujang) and one tablespoon of red chili flakes (gochugaru) to the sauce. You can order the ingredients online although the gochugoru chili flakes can be replaced with regular ones.

The method of cooking involves stirfrying the main ingredients in a bit of oil before adding your sauce and boiling the pot for about 30 mins. The result should be chewy chunks of fish and rice cakes in a thick, spicy, and pungent sauce.

You can prepare tteokbokki using leftover fish cakes but there should be no restrictions on your creativity.  A pond of rice cakes will yield a serving for 4 people.  Although fish cakes were long considered street food for the common man, they have been incorporated into a high-end dining experience with  dishes such as eomuk croquettes.

 

korean-fish-cake-recipe

 

Korean Fish Cake Recipe

You will need to procure the ingredients beforehand. The fish cake is usually sold in sheets which can then be cut into the preferred shape. Since the metropolis of Busan is the fish hub of Korea, the best odeng is sourced from there. You can check on the package to see the types of fish that have been processed into the odeng.

If you have the time and patience, you can make your fish cake by grinding various types of white fish fillets and adding other ingredients. The cheaper and faster alternative is to buy the ready-made fish cake.

 

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces fish cake. This is about 4 sheets
  • ¼ medium-sized onion
  • A clove of garlic
  • ½ scallion
  • ½ carrot. ( 1 red chili or ¼ red bell pepper)
  • 1 green chili pepper ( ¼ green bell pepper)
  • 2 tsp of oil for frying
  • Anchovy broth

 

Method

  1. Boil some water in a pot. Turn off the heat. Dip the fish cake into the hot water for about 30 seconds. Remove the fishcake and drain. This step removes any excess oil while softening your fish cake. If you so wish, you can skip this step.
  2. Slice the fish cake into the desired shape. The pieces should be bite-sized.
  3. Slice the vegetables thinly.
  4. In a non-stick pan, heat the oil over medium-high for a toss in the garlic, onions, and scallion and cook for a minute then reduce the heat to medium. When done, add the fish cake, carrot, and chili peppers. Stir fry for a minute. The odeng should have started browning at the edges.
  5. Add the sauce to the mixture and simmer until most of the water has evaporated. Serve hot.

 

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Korean Fish Cake Soup

Fish cake can be stewed, skewered, or even steamed.  When made into soup, the soup can be incorporated into the dish to form a sauce for the cakes. Alternatively, you can present it to your family or guests as a side dish.

Also, known as odeng guk, Korean fish cake soup is a delicacy served with many dishes, including rice, bunsik, or twigim. You can also add udon noodles to your fish cake soup to enjoy it as Guksu.

In Korea, fish cake soup is popular among drinkers, especially those who have been heartbroken. You will find them in makeshift tent restaurants taking fish cake soup in between drinking soju as they cry their hearts out or yell from anger.

The soup warms your tummy making you feel good regardless of the situation you are going through. Here is a simple recipe for Korean fish cake soup.

 

Ingredients

  • 6 cups of water
  • 5 oz Korean radish
  • A handful of dried anchovies
  • 5 oz dried kelp
  • 2 tsp. mirin or cooking sake
  • 1 tsp. Korean soup soy sauce
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 pack fish cake
  • 3 stalks chrysanthemum leaves
  • 2 green onions

 

Cooking Instructions

  1. Peel and cut the Korean radish in big chunks.
  2. In a big pot, add the cut radish, six cups of water, one big piece of dried kelp, and a handful of dried anchovies.
  3. Simmer these ingredients for 30 minutes and then remove the anchovies and kelp. Leave the radish or slice into smaller pieces that you can serve with the fish cakes.
  4. Season your broth with mirin, gukganjang, and salt.
  5. Chop the green onions, if you have any ssukat, rinse them and cut them into smaller pieces.
  6. Add the fish cakes and let the broth simmer for ten minutes.
  7. Serve the soup in a bowl and garnish it with ssukat and green onions. Also serve with yellow mustard, soy sauce, and wasabi.

 

Tips

  • Odeng always tastes better when dipped in yellow mustard mixed with wasabi and soy sauce. It is the Korean authentic way of enjoying this delicacy. The soup is thick and filling, and so, you can eat it on its own.
  • You can also serve the Korean fish cake soup with noodles, rice, or fish cakes. It is also great for a hangover.
  • If you love seasoning, consider adding more guk ganjang/salt to make it taste better.
  • For some heat and flavor, sprinkle some red chili powder. This is particularly great during the cold season to give you some kick.

 

 

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