Spicy Pork Sausage & Rice Cakes

spicy pork sausage with udon

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I don’t love rice cakes unless they’ve been crisped up in a hot cast-iron skillet. There’s something about the (for lack of a better word) mouthfeel of boiled rice cakes that doesn’t appeal to me. For that reason alone I wasn’t looking forward to the spicy pork sausage and rice cakes. In theory the recipe sounded delicious and I was ready to change how I felt about rice cakes, just like I changed how I felt about kimchi.

mise-en-place for spicy pork sausage ragu

The recipe is a riff on spicy Sichuan food, with ma po tofu as the starting point. There isn’t actually much tofu in this dish, but it is spicy, even though I toned down the chili peppers to a quarter of what the recipe called for.

The spicy pork sausage isn’t really sausage in the traditional sense of sausage with a casing, instead it’s ground pork pan-fried and mixed with dried red chilies, garlic, ssämjang, sichuan peppercorns, and kochukaru. There are also some roasted onions and sugar to add sweet to the heat. Chopped gai-lan adds some crunch and just a touch of tofu is stirred in to make the sauce a bit more creamy.

spicy sauce

The spicy pork sausage ragu was delicious just out of the pan. It had a bit of a nostalgic flavour to it for me, because growing up, we didn’t eat beef so all of our meat sauces were made with ground pork. Ground pork is flavourful, juicy, and lighter tasting than beef.

rice cakes

I was super happy with the spicy pork sausage, but then I had to add the boiled rice cakes. I really truly gave it a go, but after eating two pieces I couldn’t stomach the thought of eating more. It’s a texture thing. I’m sure if I grew up eating boiled rice cakes I would love this dish.

rice cakes with spicy pork sausage ragu

There was one thing that made the dish slightly more palatable for me: crispy shallots. Chang tells you to buy packaged Chinese fried shallots, but I happen to have a container full in my fridge that my mother-in-law made for me. She knows I love them and one day she gave me a giant container. It was a great present! I love love love crispy shallots and really, they make anything taste better. They add crunch and a delicious mild onion taste.

crispy fried shallots

Alas the crispy shallots where not enough to make me eat my whole plate. I picked out the rice cakes, saved the ragu, and mixed it with udon, topping it with crispy shallots. Now there’s a chewy carbohydrate that I love! The spicy pork sausage tasted great with udon.

spicy pork sausage & rice cakes

Would I make this dish again? No, not in way it was intended in the book. As much as I hoped otherwise, the rice cakes were disappointing.The ragu I would make again: juicy ground pork, spicy Sichuan flavour, crunchy greens. I would skip out on the tofu though; it didn’t add much. I imagine this would taste fantastic on rice, which I’m going to try because I have a lot of spicy pork sausage left.

10 Comments add yours

  1. I was there this weekend and the rice cakes I ate there were very crispy, like they had been pan fried.

    Chang is notorious for changing his recipes, so I’m not surprised! Wish I had thought of crisping them up first! I bet the dish would be awesome then…

    steph on February 1st, 2010 at 3:49 pm
    YahwehOrTheHighway on February 1, 2010 at 6:24 am
  2. I’ve made this dish a few times. It’s a favorite at our house as it was when we ate at Ssam Bar. Rice cakes are defnately better if they’re crisped as in the rice cakes with dragon sauce recipe. I’ve also subbed the ground pork for lamb and turkey. It was still a great dish!

    Tom,
    I’m going to have to this dish again with crisping up the rice cakes. The spicy sausage was super tasty so I think making the rice cakes crispy will make all the difference. Maybe I should give lamb a try too!

    steph on March 4th, 2010 at 6:34 pm
    Tom from Raleigh on March 4, 2010 at 10:34 am
  3. I was laughing after I cooked/ate this. This dish at Ssam Bar is one to remember, nearly reason enough to buy the book. Then I followed the recipe. 3 large yellow onions, 2 cups whole dried chilli, 1 lb. pork. Those proportions are nuts. I nearly blew our heads off, and I love heat. But it wasn’t just that. It tasted so off balance. Next time, same ingredients, totally different ratio. And agreed, crispy rice cakes.

    It’s true, Chang’s proportions are pretty crazy. I cut down the chilis just cause I didn’t want to blow our heads off! I am going to have to re-visit this one with crispy cakes.

    steph on April 4th, 2010 at 10:43 am
  4. Where can I find the rice cakes, b/c I’m having the hardest time with it? I’ve tried the large Asian supermarket, but they didn’t have it (or I was looking in the wrong place). Do they come frozen? Any help would be appreciated.

  5. I researched finding the rice cakes…they are called DOK and you can get them at a Korean Market.

  6. Hi Steph-

    I’m going to make this, but I want to cut down on the fat a bit (I know it’s pretty oily). I’m going to reduce the amount of pork and up the gai-lan. How little oil do you think I could get away with (out of the 5 T you add to start making the sauce)?

    Thanks!

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