Korean Rice Cakes with Chicken

Korean Rice Cakes with Chicken

Chewy Rice Cakes with Chicken

I absolutely love Korean rice cakes– they are tender and chewy and SO good in a stir-fries and soups. If you’re new to cooking with Korean rice cakes at home, or you aren’t sure where to purchase them, check out the sections below for more information. This recipe is a stir-fry of rice cakes, chicken, and snap peas (or any veggie you’d like to sub) tossed in a glossy brown sauce. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare stir-fried rice cakes, but this sauce is not a traditional/authentic sauce for rice cakes. A spicy sauce is one of the most common sauces for Korean rice cakes, and if you’re looking for a good one, check out this recipe from my favorite Korean recipe blog, Korean Bapsang.

In this recipe, the chicken breast pieces are tenderized with a simple velveting process using baking soda, which helps keep them super tender. I really love how the chicken turns out when prepared in this way, so you’ll find a number of recipes that include this process on the site. You can skip it if desired, but I never do!

What are Korean rice cakes?

Korean rice cakes have nothing in common with the puffed rice crackers that many Americans think of when they hear “rice cake”. Korean rice cakes, called “tteok” or “dduk”, are soft and chewy “cakes” made of primarily rice flour and water. They are very similar to Japanese mochi, but tend to be a bit more firm and chewy. They don’t taste like much on their own, so they are a great vessel for tasty sauces.

They primarily come in two shapes, ovals (as pictured in this recipe) and rods. You’ll see both styles of rice cake used in stir-fry recipes, but when it comes to soup, typically only the oval style are used. I tend to only stock the oval shape at my house, but both styles are appropriate for this recipe.

Chewy Rice Cakes with Chicken

Where to buy Korean rice cakes.

The best option for purchasing Korean rice cakes is to find a Korean grocery store, which may be difficult depending on where you live. Other Asian markets are likely to have at least 1-2 options for rice cakes, but this isn’t always a guarantee. I primarily purchase my rice cakes from a local Korean grocery store.

Since rice cakes are growing in popularity, they are becoming available through more retailers in the US! Trader Joe’s just recently began carrying rice cakes, and you can find them on Amazon as well. I’ve given the Trader Joe’s rice cakes a try and I thought the texture was a little bit off, but they’re still a great choice if they’re the only rice cakes available in your area.

Rice cakes may be found in the freezer, refrigerator, or unrefrigerated sections at the grocery store. Typically, the use-by dates are the longest for the freezer, followed by the fridge, and shortest for the unrefrigerated option. I’ve had the best results with refrigerated rice cakes, so that’s typically what I buy.

Korean Rice Cakes with Chicken

Key Tips – Korean Rice Cakes with Chicken

The rice cakes will soften quickly, and continue to soften after they’re removed from heat.

  • The easiest way to mess up this recipe is by over cooking the rice cakes to the point that they’re mushy. The texture we want to shoot for is chewy but firm, a bit like al dente pasta.
  • You can check the texture of the rice cakes by pressing them with your spatula/tongs or pulling one out to take a bite. Because the rice cakes will continue to soften as they sit, I try to pull them off when they are just slightly underdone.
  • If you’re new to cooking rice cakes, getting a feel for the appropriate time to pull them off the heat may take a few batches, but even if you end up with slightly overcooked rice cakes, they’re still delicious!

Don’t skip the chicken tenderizing process.

  • There are a few ways to “velvet” chicken, but the one used in this recipe is quite simple. All you do is lightly dust the chicken in baking soda, let it sit, then rinse it off. This step can be omitted, but it helps keep the chicken tender and will make sure the meat isn’t overcooked, so I highly recommend it.
Velvet Chicken
Chicken after velveting and cooking.

Check out my guide on freezing fresh garlic to save some time in the kitchen.

  • If you’re looking for the convenience of pre-minced garlic, but the flavor of fresh garlic, freezing your own minced garlic is a great option! You’ll be surprised to find that the flavor of frozen garlic is nearly as good as fresh, without the sticky prep and clean-up. Read more about it here: How to Freeze Garlic.

Substitute broccoli or your favorite stir-fry veggie.

  • This dish is also delicious with broccoli, broccolini, carrots, snow peas, bean sprouts, mushrooms, or whatever veggie you prefer!

The sauce can be mixed ahead of time.

  • If you’re looking to prep portions of the meal in advance, mixing the sauce ahead of time is an easy way to speed up the process when you go to make the meal. The chicken can also go through its baking soda process and then be returned to the fridge and cooked later in the day.
Chewy Rice Cakes with Chicken

Dietary Restrictions – Korean Rice Cakes with Chicken

This dish is naturally Dairy-Free.

Make it Gluten-Free.

  • Most oyster sauce contains gluten. Use gluten-free oyster sauce to make this dish gluten-free. (Both Kikkoman and Lee Kum Kee brands offer a GF oyster sauce)
  • Make sure you’re using gluten-free soy sauce, such as tamari, and gluten-free dark soy sauce.
Chewy Rice Cakes with Chicken

A Note On Serving Sizes

Serving sizes are a very personal thing, making it very difficult for me to select a serving size that suits everyone. While this is listed as 4 servings, some people may prefer to have more than one serving.

Korean Rice Cakes with Chicken

Korean Rice Cakes with Chicken

Chewy rice cakes, tender chicken, and crunchy snap peas– stir-fried and tossed in a rich, glossy sauce.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Korean
Servings 4
Calories 425 kcal

Ingredients
  

For sauce:

Instructions
 

  • Slice the chicken breast into ~¼” thick slices, then cut again into bite-sized pieces.
  • Optional step – tenderize the chicken. Arrange the sliced chicken on a cutting board or plate so it’s laying flat. Dust with 1 tsp of baking soda, then flip all the pieces and dust with the other 1 tsp of baking soda. Let sit for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, thoroughly rinse the baking soda off of the chicken with water, then pat dry (I use a mesh strainer for this step).
  • While the chicken is tenderizing, prepare the veggies and rice cakes. Rinse the rice cakes in a large bowl and gently separate any pieces that are stuck together.
  • Dissolve the corn starch in the chicken stock until fully incorporated, then add the rest of the sauce ingredients and set aside.
  • Heat a swirl of oil in a large non-stick pan or wok over medium high heat. Season the chicken on one side with salt and pepper, then add the chicken to the pan and try to arrange it such that the pieces lay flat in the pan. Cook until golden on one side (2-3 minutes), then mix the chicken around in the pan and cook until cooked through (another ~2 minutes). Remove the chicken to a plate.
    Velvet Chicken
  • Add a little more oil to the pan, then add the snap peas. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green and charred in a few spots, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and push the snap peas to one side of the pan. In the other side, add a little more oil, the garlic, and the whites of the green onions. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the rice cakes, sauce, and chicken to the pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the rice cakes soften and the sauce becomes a glaze, about 2 minutes. [Note the rice cakes will continue to soften as they sit, so it's better to remove them from heat sooner rather than later.] If the sauce reduces too much, add a splash of water as needed.
  • Remove from heat and mix in the green portions of the green onions. Serve immediately and garnish with toasted sesame seeds.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25 batchCalories: 425kcal
Keyword Chicken, Korean, Korean rice cakes, rice cakes, Stir-Fry
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