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Earlier this year Chef Rachel Yang of Joule in Seattle wowed the audience of the Ddeok Festival with her cooking demonstration.  This was her appetizer, Ddeok Moussaka with Tomato Marmalade, Eggplant Caviar and Caramelized Zucchini.  She explained it’s “basically deconstructed moussaka with rice cake.”

The picture doesn’t give it justice, but I tried it, and all was good with the world.  If you’re looking for creative things to do with rice cake, she has been generous enough to share her recipe with us.

Some of the ingredients are a little hard to find in Korea.  Cumin is more common in grocery stores than it used to be.  It’s also at the international grocery stores in Itaewon, Dongdaemun and Ansan, along with whole nutmeg.  Fresh thyme and oregano are much more difficult to find–as in, I’ve never seen them.  But you can get fresh parsley and maybe substitute the other herbs with sesame leaves or used the dried versions.  Also you could maybe substitute the sherry vinegar with balsamic vinegar.  Note that these are my suggestions and haven’t been officially endorsed by Chef Rachel.

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INGREDIENTS

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2 cups   Rice Cake Coins, cut from a log of rice cake (the kind used in DdeokGuk 떡국)

12          Tomatoes, medium  beefsteak or large plum varieties (beefsteak is the common one in Korea)

1            Onion, medium, diced

10         Korean Eggplants, medium

5           Zucchini

3 cloves     Garlic, minced

1 cup     Extra Virgin Olive Oil

½ cup    White Wine

1 tsp      Sherry Vinegar

1 tsp      Cumin, ground

½ tsp     Crushed Chili Flakes

Pinch     Nutmeg, freshly ground

Pinch     Cinnamon

Few       Thyme, Parsley and Oregano

PROCEDURE

For the rice cakes:

  1. Sauté the rice cakes in a little oil until they are crispy. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Make the marinade by mixing ½ cup of olive oil, sherry vinegar, toasted and ground cumin, chili flakes, nutmeg, cinnamon, chopped oregano, chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
  3. Marinate the rice cake in the mixture for 10 minutes.

For the tomato marmalade:

  1. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling salted water for 15 seconds and put them in a bowl of ice water.
  2. Peel the skin off. Cut into quarters and scoop out the inside.
  3. Dice the tomatoes.
  4. In a heavy bottomed pan, add 3 tbsp of olive oil. Add diced onion and sauté until they are translucent. Add two teaspoons of minced garlic and all the diced tomatoes. Add thyme.
  5. Cook slowly until it makes a nice marmalade.

For the eggplant caviar:

  1. Half all eggplants lengthwise. Score the sides.
  2. Salt the cut sides and lay them on the rack, salted sides down. Press with a sheet pan or something flat and heavy for about 30 minutes.
  3. Squeeze any excess water out.
  4. Preheat the oven at 375F/190C. Season the eggplant with salt, pepper, and 3 tbsp of olive oil. Lay them, face down, on the sheet pan. Roast them for 30-45 minutes until they are done.
  5. Scoop out the insides and blend them in a blender into a paste.
  6. Drizzle about ¼ cup of olive oil into the mixture. Add a 1 tsp of minced garlic. Season with salt and pepper.

For the caramelized zucchini:

  1. Skin all the zucchini. Cut them into small pieces.
  2. Heat the skillet with a little olive oil. Caramelize and deglaze them with ½ cup of white wine.
  3. Take them off the heat and blend them in a blender until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper.

Presentation:

  1. Garnish with oregano oil and oregano leaves.
  2. Plate on a rectangular plate.
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Front: Ddeok Moussaka with Tomato Marmalade, Eggplant Caviar and Caramelized Zucchini. Back: Rice cake, oxtail ragout, sutgot, soy cured egg yolk, smoked chili oil (recipe will come in the future)

If you’re ever in the Seattle area, make sure to check out Joule Restaurant.  Rachel Yang will be on Iron Chef America on January 17th (source: Seoul Eats).

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