Rice Ovalets, Korean Style
This oval shaped pasta, popular in Korean and Chinese cuisine deserves more attention in western cuisine, and if you ask me, a much more interesting Western name.
Made from rice flour that has been formed into logs and sliced, these pasta-like ovals have no flavoring of their own making them perfect for spicy or highly seasoned sauces.
Often labeled as “rice ovalets” they are sold in vacuum packages in the fresh or frozen noodle department of many Asian markets, and in almost all Korean grocery stores. They are also sold in thin unsliced cylinders that are served in a spicy chili sauce, a popular Korean street food.
This slightly chewy pasta (reminiscent of some versions of Italian gnocchi), only needs a bit of soaking and a quick boil in salted water before being topped with stir fried veggies, meat or a spicy sauce.
The following topping for this rice pasta is based on traditional Korean flavors. The chile paste and powder are well worth seeking out. They are readily available on-line if you lack a grocery store in your area that carries Korean pantry staples. We love the mild version of the chile powder and use it in place of paprika in all our cooking. It is sweet, fragrant and vibrant red. It’sparticularly good in dry rubs for BBQ chicken and ribs.
If you are unable to find rice ovals, the minced pork topping in this recipe is equally delicious with plain rice, Chinese egg noodles or Asian rice noodles.
1 small package (1/2 lb) rice ovalets
½ lb minced pork
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 shallots, sliced
2 tablespoons rice wine or sherry
½ tsp brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons Korean chili paste (gochujang)
1-2 teaspoons Korean chili powder (gochugaru)
3-4 small heads baby bok choy
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
5 green onions (white & green parts) cut in 1 inch pieces
½ teaspoon sesame oil
Soak the ovals in cold water for an hour or so. Bring a pot of water to boil. Place the drained rice ovals in the boiling water, lower the heat and gently simmer for 5-8 minutes, until soft and chewy. Rinse with cold water, drain, and toss with a little vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.
Brown the minced pork well in a non-stick skillet. Add the garlic, shallots, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute and add the wine, brown sugar, chile paste and chile powder and sauté for a minute.
Add the rice ovals to the sauce, separating them if they have stuck together and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the sesame oil and serve.