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5 Ways to Use Fish Cakes in Korean Recipes

5 Ways to Use Fish Cakes in Korean Recipes
A bowl of Korean soup with different types of skewered fish cakes.

Fish cakes are a versatile, budget-friendly feature of many cuisines. They’re especially popular across Asia. In the Philippines, they take the form of fish or squid balls, kikiam, and other deep-fried delights. In South Korea, another haven for feel-good eats, they’re known as odeng or eomuk. You’ll find these light, chewy, and savory cakes in everything from the simplest convenience store gimbap (seaweed-wrapped rice rolls) to elaborate feasts like hot pot.

5 Fish Cake Dishes for Korean Food Lovers

Korean fish cakes are light, chewy, and easy to cook.

Korean fish cakes are a mixture of seafood, binders like starch or flour, and seasonings – all mashed together until smooth and homogenous. They come pre-cooked in oil and frozen in most Korean grocery stores, making it easier for anyone to cook with them at home.

Do you want to master this ingredient? Start with these Korean fish cake recipes. Each is an easy crowd-pleaser that takes only five minutes (odeng ramyun) to 45 minutes (hot pot) to whip up – prep time included.

1. Eomuk-bokkeum

Bokkeum is the general term for stir-fried dishes in Korean cuisine.

Bokkeum is a category of stir-fried dishes in Korean cuisine; therefore, eomuk-bokkeum translates to “stir-fried fish cakes.” You’ll often find this served as banchan (side dish) at Korean barbecue restaurants. Basic versions call for soy sauce, rice wine, and a sweetener like sugar or honey for the saucy glaze, drizzled with sesame oil as a finishing touch. Some like to spice it up with gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes). You can even have it as ulam with rice!

2. Eomuk-tang

Eomuk-tang is simple and comforting, best enjoyed in chilly months.

Do you want to recreate the Korean street food experience at home? Make a big, boiling pot of eomuk-tang (fish cake soup)! It’s a popular on-the-go snack among locals, especially during the winter. Vendors have convenient setups where customers can pluck skewers straight from the broth and eat them street-side. If you watch K-dramas, you may have spotted characters enjoying eomuk-tang with friends or love interests.

Vendors even offer cups of hot broth (for free!) to keep customers warm as they eat. The typical broth ingredients are staples of Korean soups, like dried kelp and anchovies. But you can simplify the process with Knorr Shrimp Cubes instead – they’ll still offer concentrated umami. Eat your eomuk on sticks dipped in the soup or cut them into squares to have a bite with every spoonful of the flavorful broth.

3. Odeng ramyun

Odeng adds heft to a simple bowl of instant Korean ramyun.

Make your favorite instant ramyun more substantial by adding odeng. These savory cakes can level up any variety of Korean ramen – soupy or saucy, mild or spicy. Since they’re already pre-cooked, you don’t need to prepare them separately. Yay for easy one-pot meals! You can even toss frozen pieces straight into boiling water; they should cook as fast as the noodles. Pro tip: for richness, top your ramyun with egg!

4. Tteokbokki

Tteokbokki doesn’t feel complete without odeng.

Tteok (rice cakes), specifically garae-tteok (the smooth, cylindrical type used in tteokbokki), is the ultimate pairing for odeng. Their best collaboration has to be tteokbokki: a dish of simmered rice cakes in a spicy, fiery-red sauce made primarily of gochujang (chili paste).

Tteokbokki is such a well-loved street snack that it now comes in dozens of variations, including the trending “rose" tteokbokki. To make it, add milk or cream to the gochujang base, giving the dish a rosy-pink color. Since the gochujang packs so much flavor already, you can also use it as a dipping sauce for fish cakes.

5. Jeongol

Haemul jeongol (seafood hotpot) is perfect for family meals.

Jeongol is Korean-style hot pot. Unlike jjigae (stew), this calls for a medley of ingredients to keep the textures and flavors interesting. Love tender marinated beef in a sweet-savory soup? Try bulgogi jeongol. Do you want a few vegetarian-friendly options? There’s dubu (tofu)and beoseot (mushroom) jeongol for you.

But if you have a reliable source of fresh mussels, crabs, shrimp, and other seafood, then haemul jeongol is the way. Traditional versions use broth made from scratch (with anchovy, kombu, and the like), but Knorr Fish Cubes work in a pinch, too. If you’re on a tight budget, you can pick up less seafood and supplement it with odeng and lots of veggies.

Which recipe are you looking to try first? Now that you know how versatile these fish cakes can be, you’ll always want to keep a batch in stock. Use it in homemade tteokbokki, have it with ramyun, or cook it in fish broth for an easy, comforting soup.

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