Ultimate Cheese Ddukbokki - 떢닭
Updated: Aug 8, 2020
This is my favorite thing!
I love Ddukbokki (also spelled Tteokbokki). Out of all the Korean meals that I've eaten, including those in Korea, two of the most memorable are versions of Ddukbokki. Version one was at a market in some small country town. We just grabbed some from a vendor and it was amazing. The ricecakes were long and chewy, and served in a pool of spicy red sauce. It just looked amazing. Version two was at a Korean pub with friends. The ddukbokki was completely different, but equally delicious and fun to eat while sitting around the table drinking together. I'm not sure if it's a food memory, or a fun memory, but I suppose that's the power of eating and the shared experience.
Ddukbokki is considered street food in Korea, but that's not really a bad thing, in my opinion. While it's good as a quick snack, there are definitely versions (like this one) that are more substantial meals. When it's served as a meal, it's the ultimate comfort food. The rice cakes give it that carb-heavy, mac and cheese vibe that fills your belly and makes you happy. And, it's spicy. It can be a painful spicy (like mine), but it's always refreshing. There's something about spicy food like this that make you want more. Sometimes it seems like the only way to keep it from hurting is to keep eating, or drink (Ddukbokki goes great with beer).
As with most Korean dishes, there are 100s of variations. You might find ddukbokki with any number of things like fishcakes, noodles, cheese, or any combination therewithin. As long as you think it's delicious, there is no wrong way to make ddukbokki.
My Ultimate Ddukbokki is a variation of traditional ddukbokki, married with the awesomeness of buldalk (a la Maangchi).
Key things: Use anchovy stock and kimchi juice instead of just water. It makes for a deeper flavor. I also use provolone cheese. It's got more flavor than mozzarella, and it makes for great cheese pulls.
Also, I use chicken thighs because we always have them on hand (because they're cheap), but breasts would work too. Thighs have more fat and therefore add more flavor. Cut the skin off - it's delicious, but adds a little too much fat in my opinion. You're welcome to add noods or not (but I highly recommend you do).
Enough with the talk. Here's the recipe
5 large anchovies (멸치 - Myeol chi)
5"x5" piece of dried kelp (다시마 - Dashima)
1 medium onion (양파 - Yangpa), sliced
1 cup of kimchi juice (김치 물)
2 cups of kimchi
2 tablespoons of gochujang (고추장 - red pepper paste)
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes (고추가루)
4 chicken thighs (I don't know this one in Korean)
2 lbs. rice cakes (떡볶이 떡 - long rice cakes)
1 pack ramen noodles (라면 - lamyeon)
6 slices of provolone cheese
hard boiled eggs
DIRECTIONS 1. Soak two handfuls of long rice cakes in water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Make anchovy broth:
2. Boil 4 cups of water in a pot.
3. Add 5 or so dried anchovies, the piece of kelp, and sliced onion.
4. Boil over low heat for 5 minutes. 5. Strain out anchovies and kelp and and set remaining liquid (and onions, if you want) aside.
Make ddukboki sauce:
6. Pour anchovy broth into your saute pan (it's going in the oven later so make sure it's an oven-safe pan).
7. Add 1 cup of kimchi juice and a hearty spoonful of gochujang to the anchovy stock. 8. Add 2 cups of kimchi and 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes (gochugaru 고추가루). Bring to a boil. 9. Add in 4 bone-in chicken thighs. Bring to a boil and let cook for a few minutes before flipping them. Cook for 5 more minutes. 10. Add drained rice cakes. 11. Add noodles (I use cheap ramen (라면) noodles) 12. When noodles are done it's time to add cheese. Sky's the limit on this, so add to your little heart's content. We used 6 slices of provolone. 13. Pop entire pan under the broiler for a few minutes (keep an eye on it!) When cheese is bubbly and starting to brown, it's ready to eat.
Put entire pan on the table and dig in. Serve with bowls of rice.