Looking for a quick and simple weeknight meal to add to your dinner rotation? One that features mostly ingredients you can pull from the pantry and freezer and allows you to have dinner on the table in half an hour?
Dinner in 30: Stir-Fried Korean Rice Cakes
This rice cake stir-fry is exactly that. Better yet, it’s customizable and easy enough for kids to make.
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The base of the dish is rice cakes, which are made from a mixture of rice flour and water that’s pounded and kneaded into a pliable dough; rolled into a long, thick cylinder; and sliced into small pieces.
These chewy, mild-flavored cakes are popular in Korean cuisine, where they’re shaped into small cylinders and known as garaetteok. You can also find them in Shanghai, where they’re cut into thin, oblong disks and called nian gao. (Both types of rice cakes can be found in the frozen or refrigerated section of many Asian grocery stores—if you’re using frozen rice cakes, just make sure you defrost them first.)
This recipe is loosely inspired by the rice cake stir-fries found in Korean and Shanghainese cuisine, called gungjung tteokbokki (“royal court rice cakes”) and chao nian gao, respectively. Both dishes start with soy-based sauces and bulk things up with veggies and/or meat. In our version, the sauce is a mixture of soy sauce; sugar; sesame oil; hoisin sauce; and gochujang, a spicy Korean chile paste. As far as vegetables go, we add quick-cooking baby bok choy and snow peas.
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Here’s how it’s done: Cook scallions and garlic in an oiled skillet. Then, add a pound of rice cakes and 4 ounces of baby bok choy, cut into 1-inch pieces. Add a splash of water, cover, and cook for a few minutes. Uncover the skillet, add your sauce and 4 ounces of halved snow peas, and cook until the sauce is thickened.
That said, you can get creative with your add-ins. While this particular recipe is vegetarian, you can add bite-size pieces of meat, such as sliced beef or pork. Or, swap out the bok choy and snow peas for other veg such as sliced mushrooms, carrot coins, or cabbage. Plus, you can use either sliced or tube-shaped rice cakes—both will work just as well.
Flavor bomb of a sauce? Check. Mélange of crisp-tender and chewy textures? Check. Weeknight and pantry-friendly? Check.