In my last recipe I showed you how to make Korean street toast. I’m very happy to see many people have made it and enjoy the recipe. Today I’ll introduce you to another Korean street food: Grilled cheese and rice cake skewers!
When I visited Korea a couple of years ago, I tried this from a street vendor in Myeongdong Seoul. I walked around the popular neighborhood to taste some street snacks, and among all the different delicious-looking food this snack got all my attention.
The vendor made it right in front of me and I could see every step. It looked pretty easy, and it tasted as fantastic as it looked! Skewered soft and gooey cheese and a little crispy and chewy rice cake were cooked on the grill with a little bit of butter before it was served to me in a paper cup. She asked me if I wanted some sweetened condensed milk on it. I said yes and she drizzled it all over the skewers!
At the time I was writing my second cookbook, so once I got home to New York I recreated it and added it to my book in the Street Food chapter. I tried to develop a different version by using vegetable oil instead of butter and I tried using cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella cheese. Cheddar cheese didn’t work at all, it too quickly melted into a flat mass and burned. Most of all it turned out too salty. I found that mozzarella string cheese worked perfectly and that butter gave it a richer flavor than oil.
A few tips for this recipe:
- If you can’t find garaetteok (cylinder shaped rice cake), you can make your own at home!
- Soft, fresh rice cakes will be best, but if you can’t get those you can soften any rice cakes by blanching them for a minute or two (directions below).
- The first and last items in the skewer need to be rice cakes, to keep the whole skewer together.
- Cook over low or medium-low heat so that the cheese doesn’t go dark brown. We want it light golden brown.
Enjoy the recipe and have fun making grilled cheese rice cake skewers at home!
Makes 2 skewers
- 6 pieces of 3 inch long string cheese
- 8 pieces of 3 inch long cylinder shaped rice cakes
- 2 wooden skewers
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Sweetened condensed milk, optional
How to soften rice cakes:
Separate the rice cakes and blanch them in boiling water for 1 or 2 minutes until they’re soft. Put them in a bowl of cold water, drain and pat dry with a paper towel.
Make the skewers:
- Skewer rice cake and cheese alternatively, with 4 rice cakes and 3 cheeses. Make 2 skewers.
- Heat a non-stick heavy skillet. Turn down the heat to medium low.
- Add the butter and the skewers and let cook for 1 or 2 minutes until the bottom turns light brown.
- Turn them over with a spatula and cook another 1 to 2 minutes until the cheese and the rice cake turn light brown.
- Transfer the cooked skewers to a plate or put them into paper cups. Drizzle condensed milk over top and serve right away.