Korean cuisine is known for its unique and flavorful dishes, and one of the most beloved and popular snacks is the Korean fish cake, also known as “eomuk” in Korean. This dish has been a staple in Korean street food culture for decades, and can be found in almost every corner of the country. The Korean fish cake is made from ground white fish fillets that are mixed with various ingredients such as starch, vegetables, and spices. The mixture is then formed into a cylindrical shape and steamed or pan-fried to perfection. The result is a delicious and chewy snack that is loved by Koreans and non-Koreans alike. In this article, we will delve into the ingredients that make up a traditional Korean fish cake and the different ways it can be prepared and served. Whether you’re a fan of Korean cuisine or a foodie looking to explore new flavors, this article will offer valuable insights into the delicious world of Korean fish cake.
The History and Varieties of Korean Fish Cake
Korean fish cake, or eomuk, is a popular street food in Korea that has been enjoyed for over 100 years. It was first introduced during the Joseon Dynasty as a way to utilize leftover fish. Over time, the dish evolved and became a beloved staple in Korean cuisine.
Regional Varieties of Korean Fish Cake
Eomuk can be found all over Korea and each region has its own unique twist on the dish. In Busan, which is famous for its seafood, eomuk tends to be spicier and have more seafood flavor compared to other regions. On the other hand, in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province, eomuk is often served with tteokbokki (spicy rice cake) in a hot pot.
Types of Korean Fish Cake
There are several types of eomuk that vary in shape and size depending on the region it originated from or how it’s prepared:
- Bar-shaped – This is one of the most common shapes you’ll see when ordering eomuk. It’s long and thin like a stick.
- Flat-shaped – This type is wider than bar-shaped but still relatively thin.
- Tube-shaped – As its name suggests this type looks like small tubes or cylinders similar to cocktail sausages.
- Ring-shaped – This type has an oval shape with a hole in the center similar to doughnuts.
- Triangle-shaped – This type has triangular shapes that are thicker than flat shaped ones.
Each shape also comes with different fillings such as vegetables or squid inside.
How Eomuk Is Made
Traditionally made from ground white fish mixed with starch flour paste poured into boiling broth until cooked through but nowadays some recipes include additional ingredients like shrimp paste or minced vegetables added to enhance flavor but still keeping true to tradition. The mixture is then shaped into the desired form and cooked in boiling soup or grilled over charcoal.
The Ingredients of Korean Fish Cake: What Goes into Making It
Korean fish cake, or eomuk, has a unique taste and texture that comes from its ingredients. In this section, we’ll dive into the different components that make up this beloved dish.
Main Ingredient: White Fish
The main ingredient in Korean fish cake is white fish such as cod or pollock. These types of fish have a mild flavor and firm texture that works well in the dish. The white flesh is ground into a paste with water and then mixed with other ingredients to create the desired texture.
Binding Agents: Starch Flours
Starch flours are added to the white fish paste mixture as binding agents which give eomuk its characteristic chewy texture. Potato starch flour is most commonly used but wheat starch flour can also be used depending on preference.
Seasonings and Spices
To add flavor to eomuk, seasonings like salt, sugar, soy sauce and spices like garlic powder are mixed in with the other ingredients before being shaped into a cake.
Additional Ingredients for Variations
There are many variations of Korean fish cake which include additional ingredients to enhance their taste:
- Squid – Squid adds an extra seafood flavor making it more savory.
- Vegetables – Chopped vegetables such as carrots or scallions can be added for sweetness.
- Shrimp Paste – Shrimp paste gives an umami flavor which makes it more savory.
- Egg Whites – Egg whites give it a softer consistency while keeping its chewiness intact.
These additional elements can differ based on regional recipes or personal preference.
The Making of Korean Fish Cake: Step-by-Step Guide
Korean fish cake, or eomuk, is a simple dish made with just a few ingredients but the process can be intricate. In this section, we’ll go through the step-by-step process in making eomuk.
Step 1: Prep the White Fish
The first step in making Korean fish cake is preparing the white fish by removing its bones and skin. Then, cut it into small pieces and blend them with water until it becomes a smooth paste.
Step 2: Mix Ingredients Together
In a mixing bowl, combine the white fish paste along with potato starch flour paste to act as binding agents. Add seasonings like salt, sugar and soy sauce for flavoring plus any additional ingredients such as squid or vegetables if desired. Mix everything together until well combined.
Step 3: Shape Eomuk Mixture into Cakes
Once everything is mixed well together shape mixture into desired shapes such as bar-shaped or ring-shaped using moulds made specifically for creating these shapes or forming them by hand. Some people prefer to add skewers beforehand for easier grilling later on.
Step 4: Cook Eomuk in Broth
To cook eomuk traditionally, dip each shaped cake into boiling broth where they will cook through before being removed from heat and served hot.
Alternative Cooking Methods
There are other cooking methods available depending on personal preference:
- Grilling – Grilling over charcoal gives an extra smoky flavor which adds depth to its taste.
- Frying – Deep frying produces a crispy texture but changes the overall taste profile of eomuk.
- Baking – Baking allows you to control temperature better than other methods so you can achieve your preferred texture more accurately without altering its taste too much.
Each cooking method has its own unique way of bringing out different flavors and textures of the dish.
Korean Fish Cake in Korean Cuisine: Its Popularity and Usage
Korean fish cake, or eomuk, is a popular dish that has been around for over 100 years. In this section, we’ll explore its popularity and usage in Korean cuisine.
Eomuk as a Street Food
Eomuk is often sold by street vendors throughout Korea. It’s a convenient snack that can be eaten on the go and is also relatively cheap. It’s often served with tangy dipping sauces like gochujang which add an extra layer of flavor to the dish.
Eomuk as an Ingredient
Eomuk isn’t just enjoyed on its own; it’s also used as an ingredient in many other Korean dishes:
- Tteokbokki – Tteokbokki is a popular spicy rice cake dish that often includes eomuk slices.
- Odeng Gook – Odeng guk (fish cake soup) is a classic Korean soup made with anchovy broth and eomuk slices.
- Kimbap – Kimbap (Korean sushi) sometimes includes eomuk slices along with other ingredients like vegetables or imitation crab meat.
As mentioned earlier, there are many variations of eomuk depending on the region it comes from. For example:
- In Busan, where seafood is abundant, their variation of eomuk tends to be spicier and have more seafood flavor compared to other regions.
- In Seoul or Gyeonggi Province area where tteokbokki hot pot reigns supreme so does the addition of sliced fish cakes.
Each region adds its own unique twist to this beloved dish which allows for endless possibilities when it comes to cooking with it.
White fish used in making eomek contains high levels of protein which help build muscle mass while being low in calories and fat. It is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are beneficial for heart health.
Best Ways to Combine Korean Fish Cake into Your Meals and Snacks
Korean fish cake, or eomuk, is a versatile dish that can be enjoyed in many ways. In this section, we’ll explore the best ways to combine eomuk into your meals and snacks.
As a Snack
Eomuk is an excellent snack that can be enjoyed on its own or with dipping sauces like gochujang. Here are some popular ways to enjoy it as a snack:
- Grilled Eomuk Skewers – Cut eomuk into bite-sized pieces and skewer them before grilling over charcoal for extra smoky flavor.
- Eomuk Hot Pot – Dip sliced eomuk into hot broth for a satisfying soup-like snack.
- Eomuk Kkochi – This is bar-shaped eomek grilled on skewers but served with sweet chili sauce.
As an Ingredient in Main Dishes
Eomek’s versatility makes it an excellent ingredient in many different main dishes. Here are some popular dishes where you can include eomek:
- Tteokbokki – Tteokbokki is one of the most famous Korean street food which features chewy rice cakes cooked in spicy sauce along with sliced fish cakes.
- Odeng Gook – Odeng guk (fish cake soup) uses anchovy broth and includes slices of eomek plus other ingredients such as green onions or boiled eggs.
- Kimchi Stew with Eomek – Kimchi stew featuring vegetables, tofu and slices of fish cake mixed together making for a hearty meal.
As Part of Side Dishes
Korean side dishes are known as banchan which often include vegetables but also sometimes have small portions of protein added such as sliced beef or fried tofu. Eomek makes for a great addition to these side dishes as well. Here are some ways to enjoy eomek in Korean side dishes:
- Eomuk Bokkeum – Stir-fried eomuk with vegetables and spicy gochujang sauce.
- Oi Muchim with Eomuk – Oi muchim is a cucumber salad that often includes slices of eomek for added protein.
- Gyeran Mari Eomuk Bokkeum – This dish features thinly sliced rolled omelette, pan-fried with sliced fish cake.## FAQs
What is Korean fish cake made of?
Korean fish cake, also known as eomuk, is a popular street food in Korea made from ground white fish, such as pollack or cod, mixed with starch, vegetables, and spices. The mixture is then molded into elongated shapes and boiled in a savory broth until cooked through. It is often served on skewers or sliced and added to soups and stews.
Is Korean fish cake gluten-free?
Korean fish cake is generally gluten-free as it is made from fish, starch, and vegetables. However, some varieties may contain wheat flour or other gluten-containing ingredients, so it’s important to check the label or ask the vendor before consuming if you have a gluten allergy or sensitivity.
How many calories are in Korean fish cake?
The number of calories in Korean fish cake varies depending on the size and method of preparation but generally ranges from 50 to 150 calories per serving. However, some varieties may have added ingredients like cheese or meat that can increase the calorie count. It’s best to check the packaging or ask the vendor for specific calorie information.
Is Korean fish cake healthy?
Korean fish cake can be a healthy snack or meal option as it is low in calories and high in protein. It also contains important vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, selenium, and phosphorus. However, some varieties may have added preservatives or high levels of sodium, so it’s important to consume it in moderation and choose options with natural ingredients.