What is Korean fish cake ?
Fish cakes are used in different cuisines but Korean fish cakes have their origin in Japan and has become one of the most popular everyday cooking ingredient since its introduction. Koreans call it either Eomuk 어묵 or Odeng 오뎅 while Japanese call it Oden.
Odeng comes in various shapes and sizes in Korea and is usually 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 which often goes by Odeng Guk or Eomuk Tang. It's also sauteed lightly to make a side dish - Odeng Bokkeum.
Korean fish cake has a spongy, soft but slightly chewy texture. Sometimes cheap ones may have gritty texture which are ground fish bones.
What does Korean fish cake taste like? They are slightly sweet and mild with a hint of fishy but umami packed flavor. A cheap odeng may taste more fishy than a good quality one.
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.
Is Korean Fish Cake Healthy?
Fish Cakes (Odeng) can be healthy food if it's made with high-quality fish meat with not too many fillers and deep fried in clean oil. 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.
Korean Fish Cake (Odeng) calories will be different depending on the brand but a typical one has about 160 calories for 1 cup (90g).
Are Fish Cakes gluten free?
Usually no. It usually contains wheat flour.
Fish Cakes also usually have MSG in them.