Midnight munchies

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 January, 2012, 12:00am


Ddeokbokki (also spelled tteokbokki, ddeokbokgi and ddeokbogi) is one of the more common street snacks found in South Korea. Although it's also sold at convenience stores, ddeokbokki vendors start setting up 'shop' at night, making large batches to serve to drunken revellers, who spear the spicy rice cakes out of styrofoam cups using skewers or toothpicks.

At its most basic, the cylindrical, unflavoured ddeok (rice cakes) are cooked with onions (and/or leeks), cabbage, fish cake and a spicy mixture that includes gochujang (chilli paste), then sprinkled with sesame seeds just before being handed over to the customer. The snack is inexpensive, filling, warming and great after an alcohol-fuelled night out. Restaurant and home-made versions tend to be more elaborate and can include eggs, meat or seafood, as well as more vegetables. Another variation includes ramyun (instant noodles), for extra carbs.

Ddeokbokki started out as a delicacy served in the royal court and, like Chinese neen goh (rice cakes), this version would have been eaten during the Lunar New Year. It would have contained ddeok, but with a higher proportion of other ingredients while the flavouring would have been soy sauce based, rather than using gochujang.