Lately, I’ve been obsessed with figuring out how to “vegetarianize” Korean cuisine. For a long time, the only Korean dish I’ve ever had was bibimbap, but I wanted to learn more about the cuisine and the culture. Korean cuisine always looked so appetizing to me, but it’s so meat-centric that I never really get to try much. This all started one day when I fell into the deep hole that is Youtube.
I discovered Simon & Martina, a Canadian couple who moved to South Korea and documented their journey on Youtube. They often travelled around South Korea showing different Korean food, how to properly eat it and sometimes how to even make the dish. When they showed off a popular Korean street food, tteokbokki, my mouth was watering! Tteokbokki is long tubular glutinous rice cakes smothered in a spicy and sweet sauce. I love food that has that mochi-like, chewy texture and tteokbokki looked like my new potential obsession. Sadly, it’s not vegetarian. It typically has anchovy broth and fish cakes in it.
I was on a mission, so I researched until I could figure out what the best sugar/gochujang ratio was for the sauce. Then to make it vegetarian, I kept it simple and used vegetable broth and left out the fish cakes. I mean, I was only in it for the rice cakes anyway!
I hit up my local Korean grocery store and bought the rice cakes, gochujang and Korean red pepper flakes. They have tubular and sliced rice cakes, but the tubular ones are traditional. This entire dish took me about 10 minutes to make! The sauce is so good! You get sweetness initially, then the spiciness creeps up on you. It’s hot, but it’s a good burn! And the rice cakes! Oh my god- they have this amazing chewy texture to them that I LOVE! It’s slightly chewier than mochi and some people equate it to the texture of mozzarella. So good!
If you have leftover rice cakes, you can just freeze them until the next time you decide to use them! My next goal is to make jjolmyeon, a Korean noodle dish! I love that I can research the internet and make a cuisine that usually isn’t too available to me and try it at home! Are there any other cuisines you’ve always wanted to “vegetarianize”?