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Recipe: Duk Bokki
Marianne Moon, Special to AFAR

Duk bokki is a very spicy and very popular Korean street food, and a favorite comfort food for Korean-American kids. It literally means “stir-fried rice cake.” When you buy from a street cart, it’s usually just sliced rice cakes and fish cake in a sticky spicy sauce. But in the comfort of your kitchen, you have license to make it more elaborate. I personally love to make this dish with bacon (pork fat does rule) and as many vegetables as I can find. Play with the ingredients to suit your taste. It is also great vegetarian.

There are a few specialized ingredients for this dish. The necessaries include “duk” (Korean rice cakes), which can be bought in short tubes (traditional) or in slices (I like them because they cook faster). They even come in a brown rice version (“hyunmi duk”) for health-conscious people who want whole grain! You will also need to buy “gochujang” which is a sweet and hot prepared Korean pepper paste. Sliced prepared fish cakes are optional, but a very tasty addition. If you live in a major metropolitan area, you should be able to find a Korean grocery store for your shopping. Nowadays there are also online Korean grocery stores.… Thank goodness for the Internet! The remaining ingredients should be at your regular grocery store.

Serves 2 hungry people or 4 tasters
Ready in: 20 minutes

2 slices bacon, or 1 handful sliced fish cake (optional)
2 cups sliced brown rice cakes for dukbokki (hyunmi dukbokki duk)
1 cup water
1 minced clove garlic
1 Tbs Korean pepper paste (gochujang)
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 small onion, sliced thinly
1 small carrot, in 2" julienne
2 scallions, sliced in 2" pieces

If using bacon, brown in a small saucepan until crisp. Crumble the bacon and set aside.
Add duk and water to the drippings in the saucepan, cover and bring to a boil on medium. Let simmer until the duk is soft, but not mushy (a few minutes).
Add the sauce ingredients and harder veggies (and fish cakes if using). Simmer uncovered until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Season to taste.
Add the softer veggies (the green part of the scallions), at the last minute.
Sprinkle with reserved bacon and serve.

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