One of the all-time great Korean side dishes whipped up in your home kitchen in under 20 minutes? Yes, please!
If you've ever tried Korean food, you already know about the legendary Korean side dishes that grace the table at lots of Korean restaurants. One of my favorite side dishes (it's so hard to choose!) is a sweet and savory dish known as Korean fish cake (eomuk bokkeum).
This delicious treat, made from fish cakes of finely ground fish and seasonings, has been a beloved part of Korean street food culture for centuries. And after a recent trip to Korea, it's a popular dish in my kitchen, as well!
While this eomuk bokkeum recipe is most often served as a savory side dish along with Korean BBQ, I make and serve this stir fry as a main dish. It's quick and easy and so satisfying. With just a handful of ingredients, this fish cake recipe has quickly made its way to my list of favorite recipes.
What is Korean Fish Cake?
Korean fish cake, or eomuk/odeng, is a traditional Korean snack made from finely ground white fish mixed with starch, seasonings, and sometimes other seafood ingredients. The mixture is then shaped into sheets and fried until golden. These staples of nearly every Korean kitchen are the perfect balance of savory, umami flavors and a slightly bouncy texture that makes them so addictive and enjoyable.
I love keeping a pack in my freezer as a delicious and high-protein option for a crazy-fast pescatarian dinner any night of the week.
Ingredients for Korean Fish Cake Side Dish:
Fish cake: Korean fish cake is found in the freezer section of your local Asian grocery store and it's usually shaped into thin sheets in a rectangular shape. They are a little harder to find in Asian stores than other types of fish cakes, which are about half the total surface size, but much thicker. Either fish cake shape will work in this recipe, but the Korean style are more traditional for this popular side dish. You could also use this sweet and spicy sauce recipe over tofu sheets for a vegetarian stir-fry dish.
Veggies: I have two vegetable combinations that make this fish cake stir fry perfect. First, a combination of red and green bell peppers with yellow onion. (Sliced cloves of garlic and scallions are non-negotiables for both, although chives can be used for scallions in a pinch). Second, julienned carrots, yellow onions and green onion. Both are delicious. It just depends on what I have in my crisper drawer. Substitute veggies you love, just be sure they are quick-cooking or cut small enough to be quick-cooking. For a truly spicy fish cakes experience, add sliced red or green chili peppers to the veggie mix.
Garnish: sesame seeds are the go-to garnish for this stir-fried dish. Add a few more thinly sliced scallions for more greens and serve over rice with chili crisp. Because chili crisp is magic.
Sauce: our stir-fry sauce is a 4-ingredient wonder. Just soy sauce, gochujang, raw sugar and sesame oil. Substitute brown sugar or good old granulated white sugar for the raw sugar, if needed. For a non-spicy version, reduce or eliminate the gochujang. While this is a spicy fish cake stir fry, it is a pretty mild spice. I encourage you to tasty the sauce and add more gochujang for a spicy sauce, if desired.
Full ingredient list and measurements included in the printable recipe card below.
Step by step instructions for stir-fried fish cake:
To begin, boil a pot of water and then remove from heat. Drop the fish cakes into the water and stir for about 30 seconds, removing excess oil from the surface and softening the sheets. Pull the fish cakes from the water and dry well with paper towels or an absorbent tea towel. While this step is optional, I always take the few extra minutes to parboil the cakes as it creates the perfect texture on my flat sheets of fish cake.
Next, slice the fish cakes into strips about 1 inch wide and 2 inches long.
Thinly slice the onion, red bell pepper, green bell pepper and garlic. Cut scallions into 1-inch long pieces.
Before starting the stir-fry, make the sauce. Combine soy sauce, gochujang" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer noopener">gochujang, sugar and sesame oil in a small bowl. Stir well to combine and set aside.
Finally, start your wok or large skillet over medium high heat. Add a tablespoon of neutral oil (such as canola, avocado oil or vegetable oil) to the frying pan, along with thinly sliced onion and bell pepper. Saute for about 4 minutes, until the green and red peppers and onions are fragrant and softened a bit, but still have a little bite.
Add garlic and toss, cooking for another minute. Add thin strips of fish cakes and scallions, tossing and frying another minute.
Finally, add the sauce, coating the ingredients in the glaze and cooking until the fish cakes and veggies absorb the flavorful sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Top with sesame seeds and additional scallions or chives. Serve with Korean fish cake">kimchi and steamed white rice.
FAQs and Serving Suggestions:
Korean fish cake stir fry is a complimentary side dish for lots of Korean recipes. But my favorite way to serve this dish is as an entree over steamed rice with a big helping of kimchi. It's a ridiculously delicious and fast way to get dinner on the table and there's literally never any leftovers. If you're looking for a buffet experience, add a Veggie Pancake with Shrimp and throw in some Din Tai Fung Cucumber Salad. The cucumbers aren't Korean, but add beautiful and complimentary flavors.
The level of spiciness in Korean fish cake can vary depending on the recipe. For this gochujang sauce recipe, you'll have a low-to-medium level of heat. If you're sensitive to spice, start with half the gochujang, then taste the sauce before adding to your pan and determine if you want more heat.
Traditional Korean fish cake is typically made with some kind of wheat or starch, which may contain gluten. However, some variations might use gluten-free starch or other substitutes. If you have gluten sensitivities or allergies, check your labels before buying the fish cake (Google Translate app can help with reading labels!)
To store leftover fish cake stir fry, keep the fish cakes in sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, warm gently over medium heat in a skillet until hot.Print