We live in a small town, just outside of Madison, Wisconsin. The population here is a little over 12,000 people and unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot of diversity where we live. Especially at my daughter’s elementary school. . . a vast difference from where we lived in Washington, where there was a good mix of Indian American, Chinese, African American and Caucasian.
After an event that happened last summer, I took it upon myself to email the principal, set up a meeting with my daughter’s school guidance counselor (who is in charge of everything diversity related. . sexual orientation, different ethnicities, different backgrounds etc. and who does a great job in teaching the kids as much as she can about respect and celebrating differences.) I wanted to find out more about the student body and what they were learning as far as different countries and cultures.
So, long story short. I am going to be giving two presentations on Korean Culture to the entire second grade. There are about 125 students so we’re splitting them up by classes. OK, second graders. . so I have to not only make this interesting and fun but also memorable. Because the last thing I want is for them to sit through 30 minutes of me talking and showing slides and them not remember a thing.
My sister thinks I should end the talk by teaching the kids the Gangnam Style dance by PSY, a Korean pop star and singer, who was huge 2 years ago.
Um, yeah. . what do you guys think?
I’ll keep you guys posted. My talk is happening on March 18.
The first question Phoebe, my daughter, asked me was. . “Mom, do you know what you’re going to say about Korean culture?” I have a rough outline and we’ll see how it goes. . one thing I know. . I’m going to plan and prep the best freaking presentation ever. Or so I hope.
If there’s one thing I hope to instill in my children is their pride in being Korean. This is obviously something I want them to appreciate and celebrate. They are still young so, for now, we do what we can (I just signed them up for a Korean culture camp this summer) and talk to them and cook and expose them to lots of Korean food.
It’s still freaking cold here so I’m turning to one of my favorite Korean food comfort food dishes. Korean spicy rice cakes, or Dukbokki. I’ve made dukbokki before, here on the blog, but this version (meatless) is my go-to. . it all starts with the rice cakes. Be sure to pick up the cylinder shaped rice cakes for traditional dukbokki.
What makes this dukbokki epic for me are all the veggies, the rice cakes, the heat and. . the fried ramen noodles!!
I mean. . come on. This is comfort food.
If you’ve had dukbokki before, you will love this. If you’ve never tasted dukbokki before and can handle some heat, try this. It’s life changing, yo.
And if you’ve stuck with me this past week of celebrating Asian foods here on the blog, thank you!!!
- 1 package of tube shaped Korean Rice cakes
- Water (to soak the rice cake)
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 to 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 1 large zucchini, unpeeled and chopped
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced into thin pieces lengthwise
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 to 5 cups of water
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- ⅓ cup Korean red pepper paste or gochujang
- 8 oz. mushrooms (any kind), sliced
- 1 to 2 cups Korean fish cake, cut into triangles
- 2 packages ramen noodles (discard the powder packets, you will only use the noodles)
- 1 tablespoon of flour or cornstarch (if needed to thicken the sauce)
- 4 to 5 stalks of green onions, cut into ½ to 1 inch pieces + diced (for garnish)
- Roasted sesame seeds for garnish; optional
- Soak the rice cakes in a large bowl of cold water. Use enough water to cover them. Soak for at least 30 minutes to one hour if possible. One hour is best. You are doing this to help the rice cake soften up. (Even if you buy fresh rice cake, my mom says to soak them for a while so they don’t stick together when you cook them. If soaking overnight, use cold water and place in the fridge).
- Using a large wok or saucepan, heat the sesame oil over medium high heat. Add the carrots, zucchini and red bell peppers and saute for just a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper and cook for another minute or so. Add the water, brown sugar, gochujang and rice cakes. You want enough water to barely cover all of the rice cakes. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, add in the mushrooms, fish cake, and ramen noodles.
- At this point, if you want to or need to add in cornstarch, remove a few tablespoons of liquid from your saucepan and into a small bowl. Mix with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch until completely dissolved and then pour into the saucepan. Mix and allow to thicken a bit. Add in the green onions and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Taste your sauce! Add more sugar and/or gochujang if needed.
- To serve: garnish with more green onion, sprinkle sesame seeds if desired and serve immediately.