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How to Make Korean Fish Cakes

January 30, 2015

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We’re back from Japan! We missed our animals so much and Spudgy actually tried to jump up into my arms but since he can’t jump he just headbutt my leg and bounced off and slid to the ground. What a sweet boy! Meemers sat up in his bed and was like, “oh did you leave or something? I’m a cat. I don’t care.” Cats. We have a few Japan vlogs that we filmed for you guise, including a FAPFAP on the best beef in the world…Kobe beef.

Okay so don’t be freaked out by the title. A Korean Fish Cake (also know as 어묵 oh-mook or 오뎅 o-daeng) is not a sweet dessert cake, it’s a savoury fish noodle…thingy. Trying to spell 어묵 in romanization is really tough because the 어 sound does not have an equivalent sound in English. It’s kindof a cross between OH and UHHH making an EOH sound. I see it spelt as Eomuk online but if you don’t read Korean, you’ll pronounce it as EE-O-MUCK which isn’t right. SIGH. It’s a complicated word!

Even though 어묵 is the Korean word for fish cakes almost everyone in Korean, including the food stands, list it as 오뎅. It’s an easier word to remember if you think like this: “OH DANG guuuuurl, you looking hot tonight!” Get it? Odaeng! OH DANG!!! Ahem. Anyhow, due to the occupation of Korea by Japan back in the day, some Japanese words have been left behind such as Oden おでん which is the Japanese equivalent of Odaeng. Some Korean Nationalists will get angry if you use Korean words based off of Japanese words which is why I’m including both words so you can learn the difference: 어묵 is the totally Korean word and 오뎅 the borrowed Japanese word. But honestly, most people don’t care which word you use so don’t feel worried.

Korean Fish Cake Recipe Time

It was really hard to find a recipe for Korean fish cake, but I found one on Maangchi’s awesome Korean food site and I then adjusted it according to my own taste. I really like shrimp so I added more of that, but if you don’t like it just replace it with more of whatever flavour you like. Want a less shrimpy taste? Replace the amount of shrimp for more white fish. The ratios of fish can be adjusted according to what you have around but don’t mess around with the egg, flour, and potato starch. It’s needed to bind all the ingredients and to make a type of bouncy texture. Making this is very very easy and requires almost no skill. HAHAHAHA! Just make sure you’ve gotten rid of all the crunchy bits. They need to be deveined, deboned, shelled, skinned, and you need to remove the squid ink sacs and beak. Just remove and everything in advance so it blends smoothly in the food processor. Hopefully you have a fish monger that can do all those steps for you.

Ingredients:

Into the Food Processor:

220g white fish fillet (about one medium fish deboned and skinned, any firm white fish will work)
1 small squid (about the size of your hand)
8 medium sized shrimp
2-4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoon oil
¼ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup potato starch (or sweet potato starch)
1 large egg

For deep frying:
3 cups of oil for cooking
Extra oil for brushing onto a flipper

Optional Ingredients:
1 chopped medium hot pepper
2-3 slices of processed cheese cut into finger width strips

Tools:
Food Processor
Wok or Cooking Pot
A Spatula, a Wide Flipper, and a Knife
Brush for Oil
Paper towel on a plate or drip tray for oil

1. Dump all the ingredients except for the flour into a food processor. Give it a couple spins to chop up the fish into tiny bits.

2. Once the fish is chopped up, add both flours and blend until everything comes together into a thick smooth paste. It might have a few tiny chunks of fish, that’s okay.

3. Add 3 cups of cooking oil in a wok or a cooking pot over medium high heat and wait until the oil hits 330-350°F/180° C. Use a thermometer for this part or else the oil won’t be hot enough and the fish cake will absorb the oil and be disgusting and greasy. While this is heating prepare a paper towel on a plate (or if you have a little grease drip rack) so that you can place your cool your fishcake when it comes out of the oil.

TWO OPTIONS FOR COOKING:

-You can drop the paste into the hot oil as if you were making a dumpling by using two tablespoon brushed with oil. Scoop up a tablespoon of paste and using the other spoon, scoop it off the first spoon. Repeat this method a couple times passing the paste back and forth between these two spoons until your fish paste looks like a little ball.

-Second option is what I did in the video and what the street food stands in Korea do. Brush the flipper with oil and using a spatula and spread the fish paste evenly onto it. Then take the knife and roll the fish cake into a tube shape. If you want to add cheese, put a thin strip into the middle of the paste before you roll it up.

4. Bring the flipper closer to the wok and tip the tube of fish cake into the hot oil carefully so it doesn’t splash up and hot oil murder you. MURDER OIL IS HOT.

5. Cook for about 5-7 minutes flipping over occasionally so that it gets golden brown on all sides. Make sure your oil is still at the right temperature and not getting crazy hot or it will cook too quickly on the outside!

6. Remove the fishcake and place them on your oil drip station. Ta-da! Finished! Bite into it now and burn the inside of your mouth like eating a pizza pocket…so let it cool.

To serve:

-You can eat them on their own by just dipping it in a light soy sauce or a sweet chilli sauce.
-You can slice them up and add them to your instant ramen or (any asian noodle soup).

I hope you get a chance to make this recipe, it tastes a lot like those boxed frozen fish cakes I used to put in the oven and eat as a kid. I know a lot of Asian cooking has a type of fish cake or fish ball that they use in their soups so I’m curious if this recipe sounds totally normal and familiar to you or if it’s totally foreign! Let me know in the comment section below, and please post photos if you decide to make it. I’d love to hear any adjustments to the recipe or any tips and tricks. Happy cooking!

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How to Make Korean Fish Cakes

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  1. Hey Dothraki-Man-Warrior and Martina :)

    The fishcake recipe was DELICIOUS *drools*, but do you want to know this one epic way to make eomuk? It is to make eomuk pancakes.

    Instead of making the thick traditional ones that you guys made, maybe try making them thinner? The technique I use is to wrap the batter in cling wrap (make sure sure you use more cling wrap than you actually think you need), smack it onto the counter-top and start beating the absolute crap out of it (no joke, this is why we need more cling wrap so the batter won’t come out after you beat it up). The Dothraki-Man-Warrior would ace that task. The aim is to beat it to make it very thin so the batter bouncy (and happy), and this makes the eomuk have a new texture (chewy). If your arms get tired, use a rolling pin instead. Once the batter is thinned out, unwrap the cling-wrap (safety reasons) and fry it normally. This eomuk pancake will make the outside crust a little more crunchy and it would taste delicious.

    I hope you see this comment, and try this for your next late night snacking. Happy eating :)

    5 years ago
  2. Never watch/read FAP FAP while hungry…OH MY GLOB! They look soo delicious, while plan a day to make these beauties! Wish me luck!

    5 years ago
  3. I’ve made these before and they were soooooo good. I would throw them in pretty much everything. In ramen in particular. But you made yours so big!! (ps, we had the same rolling technique, haha)

    5 years ago
  4. Thank-you!!! I always wondered how to make this!

    5 years ago
  5. Weird question maybe, I have never actually seen squid being sold here, let alone small squid. ( and the idea of cutting open ‘fresh’ squid kind of freaks me out) Isn’t there anything I can use to replace the squid?

    5 years ago
  6. Hello Martina, you followed Maangchi’s recipe. But please beware that expensive ingredients like shrimp and squid are not used in most fish cake. Fish cake was originally a means to consume unused parts from sushi or other fish dish. Fish bones were ground fine with unused fish meat. Modern commercial fish cake use less bones and more cheap/unpopular fish meat. Shrimp and squid will make an unusually expensive fish cake.

    5 years ago
    • DD

      Hi sungksoh, I like Maangchi’s recipe and her program as well as Eatyourkimchi. I don’t really think this can be described as “following.” Using fish fillet is very common ‘instant type’ choice in Korea. Unfortunately I can’t say who is the first one used the fish fillet for Odeng, you can see huge amount of post uses fish fillet in Korea. (Actually my mom did it by 5 years before.) It seems similar but there is no onion here and egg yoke included, which is huge difference, as a custom recipe. In comparison with korean usual recipe that I know, minced carrot, onion and scallion are actually one of the major ingredient that usually not removed.
      So, I would say this is clearly Martina’s recipe.

      I think this is about tone of the word. I definitely agree with Martina’s recipe in English but in Korean, probably Martina’s version마르티나 버젼/ 마르티나식 arranged by Marina will be usual in korean web … such a weird koglish but anyway…

      5 years ago
  7. Hey guise, Martina you look like you are feeling better, anyhow this sounds and looks really good but here in Michigan we don’t have fresh squid. Bummer :-( would frozen squid work as well or would it be too much mush after its thawed? But its nice to see you guys have a new video…

    5 years ago
  8. Never thought anyone would (or could) make 어묵 at home but then again I don’t cook

    5 years ago
  9. Las week I finally made Jajangmyeon (Chunjang was very had to find). Now, fish cake enters the to-do list! I wonder if it’s similar to Chikuwa…

    The only sad thing: seafood is expensive here and isn’t even fresh. hahahahah (nervous laugh)

    5 years ago
  10. It looks soo yummy! I ate some kind of fish cake (not sure if it was a korean one) at an asian supermarket and it was very tasty. Though I think it would have been delicious if I had bought it freshly made and not cold… now I’m hungry T_T I would like to try that recipe out, but I don’t have a food processor (and I think I would be too lazy to make it myself >.<)

    5 years ago
  11. Aww man, these look great! I’m all for making brownies as a midnight snack, haha. Also not good for the thighs…-_-

    5 years ago
  12. Yay!!! Now that I can read korean those words make sense!!!

    5 years ago
  13. Mmhhmmm… I love fish cakes. Now, I’m hungry for one.

    5 years ago
  14. DD

    It’s good to see your new post, especially your FAPFAP! And I badly want this fresh fish cake after watching your video… It look Soooo yummy and perfect! My best is the hot pepper version, its spiciness. This will be my dinner today! Thanks.

    5 years ago
  15. Perfect for friday dinner. Is squid necessary? Can I use frozen squid rings?

    5 years ago
  16. I’m curious, what camera did you use to film this?

    AND HOORAY FOR FAPFAP <3

    5 years ago
  17. It’s 1AM for me right now and man, is my stomach grumbling at me angrily right now. I want much. ;; Fishcakes are actually a pretty normal thing for me since it’s something I grew up with. I normally get them when I’m eating dim sum though and it looks fairly different from Korean fishcakes because, while they’re fried as well, they don’t look crisp golden and are more oily. This looks like a pretty fun recipe though– I’d like to try this out with my mom hahaha. (She’s been watching Mandarin-dubbed K-dramas as of late and she’s been wanting to try all the Korean food lol.)

    5 years ago
  18. I was actually wondering how they were made yesterday during lunch. they are one of my favourite banchan :) At that moment the conversation wasn’t quite right to go, “Hey guise, how do you make these?” Not that I had a clue what they were talking about since my colleges love to talk korean to each other when I’m sitting next to them. I guess I need some more foreigners here to talk with during lunch.

    Anyway thanks for the recipe :D

    5 years ago
  19. Looks amazing! Its 2AM in NewBrunswick and I was just thinking I should get up and cook something. Your fishcakes just motivated me even more! I approve of the late night cooking Martina nothing like 2AM breakfast or pizza dip. I can’t get enough of your cooking videos ^_^

    When I was living in CapeBreton I’d always have fishcakes with breakfast really adds some more excitement to the classic eggs, sausage, bacon and potatoes…

    I wonder if you guys make pizza dip? Do you know it as sour cream, hamburg with taco seasonings, salsa, and cheese?

    5 years ago
    • OMMGGGG New Brunswick! The only part of the Maritimes I haven’t visited. :( You could make kick ass fish cake with all your fishy resources! I’ve never made pizza dip and in Korea you can only buy sour cream at Costco so it’s a bit of a trip to get it. Next time I’ll try it, I brought taco seasoning back from Canada!

      5 years ago
  20. HAHA Meemers being typical kitty and Spudgy is so cute and happy to see you guise! I don’t like fish anything. Actually I am allergic to most seafood. What’s even funnier, I’m from DAEGU. Or TAEGU, which ever way you’d like to spell my city.

    I learned Korean reading it and also the crazy phonetics in English. Uhm, I wish they’d stick to writing it in English ONE way. I learned the old way. So my name is Lee, Mee Jung. Now these days, it’d be spelled: Li, Mi Jeung. Uhm, no no no I like it the old way, thanks :) So I feel your pain in trying to pronounce stuff then write it in English letters. A little bit complicated. Then people in North American can’t say Hyundai. They say: Hunday…. *fail…*

    But I can’t wait to see your new videos, really having a with-drawl from EYK!

    5 years ago
    • Taegu is the old spelling which follows a system developed by linguists for specialist usage, which means it makes some distinctions based on phonetics—e.g. ㄷ is ‘t’ at the beginning of the word, but ‘d’ between vowels. This system was difficult to master for the average Korean who couldn’t figure out when to use ‘d/g/b’ and when to use ‘t/k/p’, so in 2000 the South Korean government introduced a system which is a bit easier for Koreans to learn. So Taegu became Daegu. I don’t really like that they’re using ‘eo’ to represent 어 though, since it looks like it would be two vowels ‘e-o’ for many foreigners. I liked the old way of writing ‘ŏ’, even if it is harder to type.

      In truth, though, not many people bothered to learn the systems either then or now, so everyone spells everything a bit differently according to their own whims instead of following a system. And of course old spellings for brand and corporate names etc. can’t be changed, which is why we still have Hyundai and Samsung instead of Hyeondae and Samseong. Personal names are problematic as well, and it was decided to allow people to use old familiar spellings like Kim, Lee, Park, and Choi instead of Gim, I, Bak, and Choe. But now, if you make a passport, by default I think they will apply the new system for the given name, so Lee, Mee Jung could become Lee, Mijeong.

      Whichever way we write it, Hyundai is an extremely difficult name for non-Koreans to pronounce! I can’t think of another language that has all the sounds needed to pronounce it correctly.

      5 years ago
  21. I really want to try fish cakes, but there’s nothing around here that really serves this kind of thing? Maybe I need to venture into the city…
    Anyway, awesome job Martina! The rolling looks like it can be a little aggravating. I seriously love everything Maangchi makes, she’s incredible! * o*

    5 years ago
    • I don’t know where you live in the world, but if you have a Vietnamese restaurant (like for Pho) anywhere nearby they often have “fish balls” as an option for adding to Pho. It’s a bit sweeter than Korean fish cakes but a similar concept. :D

      5 years ago
  22. If it makes you feel better Martina, I have cooked and eaten instant noodles in front of the stove at 3am while pulling all-nighters to write papers.

    I think your fish cake recipe is similar to the uncooked fish paste that my grandma buys at the store every once in a while…. What grandma does, is scoop spoonfuls of the paste, and pan fry them in the wok. Grandma doesn’t deep fry them though because she knows it’s unhealthy, and wouldn’t taste good…

    5 years ago
    • OOHHH where is your grandma from? I’m so curious as to where you can buy uncooked fish paste?

      5 years ago
      • Grandma lives in Vancouver, but she is from Cantonese origin. We can find uncooked fish paste at the T&T, a huge ass Chinese supermarket. I think it’s somewhere in the live seafood section… Or the pre-done food section…

        5 years ago
  23. I felt very scared trusting Martina with hot oil…

    5 years ago
  24. Not going to be able to try this recipe I live in a desert state not that much access to squid. oh well :) for realz I was so excited to see that there was a new video I was glad that my roommate had left before I had shouted ( YES A FAP FAP FINALLY!) at the top of my lungs.

    5 years ago