I don’t know how weird is it to change the featured photograph, but I made this dish again, and I just like this street/take out-styling much more. It suits the dish. Enjoy!
I’M GOING TO EAT AS MUCH CHEWY AND STICKY RICE-THINGS DRENCHED IN PLASTIC-DYING SAUCES, TO MY TEETH’S CONTENT
So, today is the day.
No, not the day I rolled out of bed looking like Beyonce. Because that was yesterday. Nor is it the usual days that I hallucinate behind my gas-mask about the elusive, blue-est of the blue sky-day in Beijing that never comes. Because today, it actually is. Totally smog-free. Yay. But you know, the cheerleader in me rather focus on the fact that – like how snowstorms only come on the weekends – this miracle just had to happen in the fucking middle of the week. A thursday. Pffffff…. Today is also not that day that I unveil another fabulous cooking-alternative like how to make a creamy scrambled egg in 15 seconds, or how to make cruffins with a pasta machine, to say, help you get on with your lives in desperate needs of delicious comforts. I mean really, enough about you.
In fact, today is the day, that I’m finally done with… my Invisalign.
Yup, that’s right. For the past 6 months, I’ve been wearing my borderline-intrusive, and not-so-INVISible teeth-ALIGNment devices inside my mouth, 20 hours a day, 7 days a week, which I’m finally getting rid of after what felt like a fucking million years, and why? Well, to make adjustments on my low-profile and pre-middle-aged teeth so SUBTLE, that it could only be noticed by me, myself, and my forevermore judgmental selfies (that bitch just can’t let anything go, can she?). You see, this is what ultimately happens, when an emotionally unfulfilled woman is left alone in her solitary confinement for far too long that she starts to talk to herself in the mirror. Whereas a man may see from the reflection, an utter failure; but a woman, one crooked tooth. Hey, we’re optimistic like that. So, in 2 hours, I’ll be lounging at the dentist’s office, in a sacred ancient ritual where I rip these damn things off of my mouth and light them up in a hysterical bonfire until they turn to ashes. That shall feel good. Then I’m going to come home, with my device-free and minimally improved teeth, I’m going to eat as much as this as I can.
If you’re wondering why this, a savoury version, pork stuffed sticky rice balls giddying in a red pool of spicy, Korean tteokbokki (stir-fried rice cake) sauce as my first meal out of the pit, well there are good reasons. Even though there were plenty of sticky rice-things here and there in the past few weeks already, the experience of ingesting them was, well to say the least, a highly skillful and demanding task. You see when you mingle the word “sticky”, with devices that are trying to hold onto your teeth for dear life… things can get complicated. Somewhere along the chewing and the friction and the physical bonding of things, I could, without any notifications, lose a “grip” or get “de-capped” or worse, lose the last trickling ounce of dignity and the will to somehow make this feel funny-ish. So in the most appropriate and rewarding matter, the only thing that I should be granted with at the end my “correctional” sentences, I am going to eat as much of chewy and sticky rice-things drenched in plastic-dying sauce (yeah did I mention that? they get colored, too), to the content of my now invisibly aligned teeth.
But what’s in it for you? Well, if you were already a fan of Korean tteokbokki, then you should know that they’re always a reward even in the absence of a good reason, especially when stuffed with ginger and soy sauce flavoured ground pork, with a fast and easy and dare I say, better, spicy tangy and sweet tteokbokki sauce that will make your flat tires taste good. But really though, enough about you.
So here, another sticky rice ball recipe. If you want a word with it, talk to the teeth.
- Sticky rice wrapper dough as previously instructed
- 7.4 oz (210 grams) ground pork shoulder
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp water
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp potato starch, or cornstarch
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/8 tsp sugar
- 1/4 cup Korean rice wine, or sake wine
- 1 tbsp (20 grams) ginger, cut into small pieces
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 shallots, peeled
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil, plus more to serve
- 3 1/2 tbsp (85 grams) gochujang/Korean chili paste
- 1 1/2 cup chicken stock
- 1 1/2 tbsp kombu soy sauce, or concentrated soba soup base
- 2 1/2 tsp honey
- 1 1/2 tsp rice vinegar
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tbsp of sticky rice flour
- TO MAKE THE PORK FILLING: Mix everything under "pork filling" until even, then with slightly wet hands, shape it into small meatballs about 2 tsp each. You should have about 14+ in total. Flash-freeze the meatballs in the freezer for 30 min ~ 1 hour until hardened. You don't have to flash-freeze them, but it will make your life a lot easier.
- TO MAKE THE STUFFED STICKY RICE BALLS: Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Do not dust them with more sticky rice flour at this point, or they won't close properly later on. Flatten 1 portion with your hand so it's about 1/4" (4 mm) thick, then place a hardened meatball in the center. Bring the wrapper upward to enclose the meatball, exclude as much air from the interior as possible, then pinch off any excess doughs at the seam (keep the scrap). Gently squeeze the stuffed ball in your hand, rotating after each squeeze (kind of like squeezing a stress-ball, but gently), until the surface is smooth. Then roll lightly in sticky rice flour, and repeat with the rest. Gather the scraps and make as many out of it as you can. You should have about 13~14. You can make the stuffed sticky rice ball before hand. Cover them tightly with plastic wrap (helps prevent cracking) and keep in the freezer until needed.
- TO MAKE THE QUICK TTEOKBOKKI SAUCE: Combine Korean rice wine, ginger, garlic and shallot in a food-processor or blender, and run until smoothly pureed. Heat up toasted sesame oil in a pot over medium heat, add the rice wine-puree and cook until most liquid has evaporated (it would feel like a paste). Add gochujang, stirring occasionally, until it starts to caramelize on the side of the pot. Then add chicken stock, kombu soy sauce, honey, vinegar and freshly ground black pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture is reduced by 1/3 ~ 1/2.
- Transfer about 2 tbsp of the liquid into a bowl, and stir in 1/2 tbsp of sticky rice flour until absolutely lump-free. Then slowly add it back to the pot, stirring constantly, and cook until the sauce has fully thickened. The sauce can be made ahead of time and reheated before serving.
- TO SERVE: Bring a pot of water to boil, then gently add the stuffed sticky rice balls (*DO NOT CROWD THE POT*). Keep the water at a gentle boil. The sticky rice ball is ready when they have floated to the surface (3~4 min) and feel slightly swelled (another 30 sec). Transfer to a bowl with slotted spoon, then serve with tteokbokki sauce drizzled with more toasted sesame oil and finely diced scallions.
About kombu soy sauce/tsuyu: I like using Japanese concentrated soup base (or dashi base) when recipes call for bonito or kombu (kelp) flavouring. It's quick, foolproof, and frankly, much more convenient. But they may only be available at specialty stores or online, and the variety can be confusing. This recipe calls for kombu soy sauce such as this one. But if you can't find exactly the same thing, IT IS COMPLETELY OK. Try substituting with a concentrated soba soup base such as this one, or ANYTHING SIMILAR really. I alway use different brands and the result doesn't stray far away from each other.