I found that the biggest challenge for this recipe was finding the ingredients. Silken tofu, kochukaru, rice cakes, these were just some of the things that I had to find on Asian grocery scavenger hunt. Some might find it frustrating, some might take a look at the ingredients and take a pass, but there is just something about finding this stuff that has been a lot of fun.
The ingredients, while different, have many similarities to American ingredients. Kochukaru is basically chili powder. Rice cakes (in stick form) are not the lightweight prepackaged diet snacks you typically think of, but doughy sticks that have the dense chewiness of gnocchi. Silken tofu, when whipped, has a mellowing affect on spice like one would expect from sour cream. For me it’s the kind of thing that gets the mind going a mile a minute as to the application of these ingredients on some of my favorite foods.
If you’re up for the challenge of finding the ingredients, this is a great recipe for any spice lover. My only caveat would be to make the dish with the dried chiles but pick them out when everything is done. If you’re adventurous go ahead and try them but consider yourself warned. This does freeze and warm up well.
Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes
by David Chang from Momofuku
- ½ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 3 large yellow onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
- 2-1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 very loosely packed cups (1-1/2 ounces) dried red chiles
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons toban djan (jarred Chinese fermented bean and chile sauce) or ssämjang (the Korean analogue to toban djan)
- 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon kochukaru (Korean chile powder)
- 6 tablespoons of water
- 1 tablespoon usukuchi (light soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 cups sliced or coarsely chopped Chinese vegetables, such as Chinese broccoli or bok choy
- 8 long cylindrical rice sticks, cut in 1 inch lengths
- 8 ounces silken tofu, drained
- 1 cup sliced scallions, greens and whites
- ½ cup packaged Chinese fried shallots
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. After a minute or two, when the oil is hot, add the onions and ½ teaspoons of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to take on color and begin to shrink in the pan, about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, turning the onions over on themselves every 5 or so minutes, until golden and soft and sweet, about 20 minutes longer.
- Meanwhile, heat another tablespoon of the oil in a wide skillet over medium-high heat. After a minute or two, when the oil is hot, add the ground pork and cook, jabbing at the meat with the edge of the spoon to break it up, for about 10 minutes, just until it has lost its raw pinkness but not so long that it brown or threatens to dry out. Transfer the pork to a bowl and reserve it. Return the pan to the stove.
- Add the remaining 5 tablespoons oil to the pan turn the heat down to medium, and let the oil heat up for a minute. Add the dried chiles and warm them through in the oil for 1 minute, until they’re fragrant. Add the sliced garlic and cook, stirring, for a minute to infuse its flavor into the oil – it doesn’t need to color, but when the aroma of garlic is rising from the pan, it’s ready, Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Chinese chile bean sauce, Sichuan peppercorns, and kochukaru. Reserve until the onions are cooked.
- Add the water, cooked onions, and pork to the pan with the chile sauce and stir to combine. Stir in the soy, sugar, and remaining2 teaspoons salt. At this point, you can cool the sauce and refrigerate it (for a few days) or freeze (for a few weeks), if desired.
- Meanwhile, put a large pot of water on to boil and salt it well.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium heat and stir in the chopped greens. Cook them for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stems are just tender.
- Drop the rice cakes into the boiling water and cook them for 2 to 3 minutes, until warmed through. Drain and add them to the pan with the pork sauce. Whisk the tofu until creamy and fluid and then stir it into the rice cake mixture.
- Divide the rice cakes and ragu among serving bowls, garnish each with some scallions and packages fried shallots, and serve hot.