I realized that I have been working my way through all of the recipes in the Noodle Bar section of the Momofuku cookbook. Although I haven’t committed to cooking every recipe (which gives me an out if I can’t bring myself to make kimchi), I suspect I will have finished the book by next spring. After making the ginger scallion noodles, I turned the page and knew the roasted rice cakes would be next.
As is the case with many of the book’s recipes, this one required components created from three separate sub-recipes. Fortunately, the most time-consuming of the three, ramen broth, was available in the Belm Utility Research Kitchen Deep Storage Facility. The other two — roasted onions and Korean red dragon sauce — were about an hour’s worth of work when prepared simultaneously.
This isn’t a difficult recipe, but it requires attention and patience. I started with six thinly-cliced onions (about eight loosely packed cups) in a cast iron pan over medium-high heat with two tablespoons of vegetable oil.
Once the onions began to release liquid I added big pinch of salt and turned the mass every three minutes or so until the volume reduced by half. I turned the heat to medium-low and turned the onions every ten minutes while they browned, making sure they didn’t burn. After fifty minutes I had a little over a cup and a half of roasetd onions, which I stored in the fridge until needed.
Korean Red Dragon Sauce
While the onions cooked, I assembled my ingredients for the sauce: three quarters of a cup of ssämjang (fermented bean and chile sauce), a half cup of sugar, a half cup of water, two tablespoons of light soy sauce, a teaspoon of xiaoxing wine, and a teaspoon of sesame oil.
I brought the water and sugar to a boil until the sugar dissolved, removed it from the heat, and stirred in the ssämjang, soy, wine, and sesame oil.
Roasted Rice Cakes
I assembled yet another set of ingredients for the rice cakes: rice cakes, a half cup of red dragon sauce, a quarter cup each of mirin, ramen broth, and roasted onions, a tablespoon of sesame seeds, and a half cup of sliced scallions.
To make the final sauce, I combined the mirin and ramen broth in a saucier and boiled for about three minutes until thickened.
I added the red dragon sauce, lowered the heat to medium, and cooked the mixture for six minutes until it was glossy.
I stirred in the roasted onions and kept the sauce warm.
While the sauce reduced, I set a cast-iron skillet over medium high heat until very hot. I added two tablespoons of vegetable oil until it was smoking, then added the rice cakes. (The recipe calls for long rice cake sticks which get cut after roasting, but I had to use pre-cut cakes.) I cooked them over medium heat until they were lightly browned.
I brought the sauce back up to a boil, tossed in the rice cakes until they were evenly coated, and then sprinkled in the sesame seeds.
I divided the cakes into bowls and garnished with the scallions.
The rice cakes were crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. The sauce was sweet, smoky, spicy, all in perfect balance. I had prepared the dish to accompany a batch of korean fried chicken, but it completely stole the show. I have plenty of red dragon sauce left, and plan on trying the rice cakes topped with Korean short ribs, or even a simple fried egg.
I may need to invest in a second fridge to accommodate my slowly-expanding assortment of meal components — roasted onions, ramen broth, red dragon sauce, ginger scallion sauce, etc. — but it will be worth it to be able to pull these meals together on demand.
Ssämjang, mirin, scallions, sesame seeds, rice cakes: Reliable Market