The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Our Cooking Project #2: Ddeokbokki & Bulgogi

I guess we didn't have to wait long after our first cooking project before I posted up the recipe of our second project. On our recent visit to K-town, we bought a packet of garaeddeok (cylinder-shaped rice cake) to make ddeokbokki. At first we were going to buy a 1-serving pack of ready-made ddeokbokki sauce to make the dish, but I also intended to buy a jar of gochujang (spicy paste) and I figured the sauce must surely use this condiment. I thought that it couldn't be difficult to make the sauce from scratch, and besides, the sauce packet was completely in Korean and I had no idea what other junk (e.g. artificial flavouring/preservatives/colours etc) was in it.

After a quick search on the internet for ddeokbokki recipes, it became clear that gochujang is indeed an essential ingredient, and that like most stirfry dishes, there are no hard and fast rules for making this dish. So armed with the essential spicy paste, I made up my own recipe using the vegetables I had in the fridge, and had the help of my wonderful husband with the prep. Incidentally, I had some sirloin steak in the fridge, so we also made some bulgogi to go with the ddeokbokki. I've made bulgogi before when we had bibimbap at home so I had a rough idea of what goes in it, but funnily enough, it didn't occur to me to refer to my recipe.

We ate the bulgogi with the ddeokbokki wrapped in crisp lettuce leaves, and it was so good - who says healthy can't be yummy? I love using my hands to eat - there's something fundamentally wonderful about it, plus it means less things to wash!


2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
2 cloves garlic, chopped
300g sirloin steak, thinly sliced

Marinate beef for at least 30minutes, then panfry over high heat for 1 minute. Turn off heat, drain and reserve the liquid for the tokboggi. Remove the beef from the frypan.


1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cm ginger, chopped
1/4 cabbage, chopped
200g daikon, cut into thin sticks
100g broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
200g garaeddeok (cylinder-shaped rice cake)
3 teaspoons gochujang (spicy Korean paste)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
A couple tablespoons of water

1. Prepare the rice cake according to the packet instructions - which was all in Korean, but the picture seems to suggest that I put them in boiling water, so I boiled it for only a minute or two until the rice cake softened.
2. Heat the oil in the frypan and cook the chopped onion over medium heat for a few minutes.
3. Add the garlic and ginger to the frypan and stirfry for a minute until fragrant.
4. Add the daikon and cook for a couple of minutes before adding the broccoli and cabbage.
5. Stirfry the lot for a few minutes until the cabbage has softened slightly. Meanwhile, mix together the gochujang, sugar, chilli powder and water.
6. Add the prepared rice cake cylinders into the frypan with the gochujang mixture and continue to stirfry until vegetables are cooked.

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