What are fish cakes ?
Korean Fish cakes have their origin in Japan but has become one of the most popular everyday cooking ingredient. Koreans call it either Eomuk 어묵 or Odeng 오뎅 while Japanese call it Oden.
Odeng comes in various shapes and sizes and is made with pureed white fish, batter often made from potato starch, sugar, and pureed vegetables. They are sold on their own with different marinades and sauces or used to make tteokbokki or fish cake soup. It's also sauteed lightly to make side dish - Odeng Bokkeum.
Where and What To Buy
Korean and Asian grocery stores, usually in the frozen section or refrigerated section. Well-known Korean brands are Samho 삼호 and Sempio 샘표 like this one.
It is often sold as 부산어묵 (Busan Eomuk) where Busan is the seaport city of Busan and since they are known for their seafood, it is hinting at the fact that this one should have more fish than fillers - but of course, you can't just trust the description.
Lower quality fish cakes may have more fillers (starch) than fish meat so look for ones where the primary ingredient is fish paste or meat.
How to Use/Cook
Korean fish cakes (Eomuk) comes usually in 2 different styles -
Thin sheets (called Shijang Odeng 시장오뎅) - use these to make Eomuk Bokkeum. Just cut into strips and saute with a little bit of water, soy sauce and sugar. Finish with some sesame seeds and green onions. Also, add these to Tteokbokki for a wonderful variation of texture and flavor. (RECIPE)
Skewered ones or multi-shaped packages - use these to make Fish Cake Soup (Odeng Guk) or add to Udon Noodle Soup. Fish cake soup RECIPE
How to Clean/Store
They can be kept in the refrigerator in a sealed bag or container until their expiration date, or they are best stored for longer in the freezer. They can be blanched in boiling water prior to using to remove any excess oil and to soften them before cooking but it's not a necessary step.
Fish Cakes (Odeng) can be a healthy food if it's made with high quality fish meat, not too much fillers and deep fried in clean oil. A lesser quality ones could be deep fried in oil that's been overused and you may be able to smell a bit of rancid oil which may not be healthy.