I tried a few recipes from Bon Appétit that ended up disappointing me mainly in that they were completely unremarkable. Picadillo turned out completely differently than I was expecting; the beef and ginger stir-fry was fine; the sesame-scallion chicken salad was fine; the golden fried rice that should have been bright yellow thanks to egg yolk was just as white as it normally is.
But then I got around to making this salt-and-pepper pork with crispy rice cakes, and Bon Appétit knocked it out of the park this time! The soft Korean rice cakes, of which I had fond memories from my childhood, can be hard to find; I got mine online, but they can also be found in specialty grocery stores – fresh, shelf-stable, or frozen. I didn’t get a good sear on them, but they still lived up to my expectations!
I’d recommend using all the scallions (instead of just the white and light green parts) and saving the dark green parts for topping the dish – it would be prettier, even though the recipe doesn’t call for it.
The original recipe said it made 4 servings, so I doubled it to get leftovers (though I forgot the double the last 3 ingredients, which make a sauce), and it was great! Except that… what we got was 4 generous servings instead of the 8 I expected. So, the quantities that I’m giving you below serve 4, and don’t count on leftovers. I’ll have to make this again!
16 oz. (1 lb.) Korean rice cakes
4 Tbsp. (or more) vegetable oil
16 oz. (1 lb.) ground pork, turkey, or chicken
a 3-4” piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
8 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced (see note above)
kosher salt, freshly ground pepper (I added a pinch of Korean pepper)
4 Tbsp. lactose-free butter, cut into pieces
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
Place rice cakes in a medium bowl and pour in cold water to cover. Let soak 10 minutes. Drain, rinse, and pat dry.
Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add pork and cook, undisturbed, until browned underneath, about 2 minutes. Break up with a wooden spoon or a spatula and continue to cook, stirring and breaking into large pieces, until browned all over but still pink in places, about 2 minutes more.
Add rice cakes, ginger, garlic, and half of scallions; season with salt and plenty of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pork is cooked through and rice cakes are browned in spots, about 4 minutes. If pan looks a bit dry at any point, pour in a little more oil. Remove pan from heat; add butter, soy sauce, and sesame oil and toss to coat.
Transfer pork mixture to a platter and top with remaining scallions, if using.