The New Gastronome
Freaky Pairings Episode IX: The Avant-Garde Rice Cake from Seul
by Soojin Yang
by Soojin Yang
Tteok-Bo-Kki is the food that brings back childhood memories from South Korean. Either on the street or in a small snack bar, it was pure joy to eat Tteokbokki with friends after school. This little apertivo for students was a way of escaping from afternoon boredom.
It is made from small-sized Garae-Tteok (glutenous rice cake) with a spicy sauce containing Gochujang (Korean pepper paste). Sometimes, I ordered cheese-Ttoekbokki and I was served deep red-coloured Tteokbokki topped with white melted mozzarella cheese which helped neutralize the spiciness. Pick up a tteok with a fork, wrap cheese around it, put it in the mouth and you are in heaven.
A. D V. E. R. T. I. S. I. N. G
I always ordered Coolpis with Tteokbokki, which is a probiotic drink flavoured with peach, plum or pineapple and comes packaged in cartons. It has a sweet and sour taste with artificial fruit flavour and helps to cool down the spiciness. Imagine a bite of Tteokbokki and a sip of Coolpis together. It actually works well and you will find yourself repeating this spicy-and-sweet rhythmic pattern over and over.
In South Korea, ‘Coolpis = spicy food’ is almost a formula. It was much more consumed in the past but still, you can find this old-fashioned drink in any places serving spicy food. If not, try any other form of peach juice, it will work too.
3 cups of Seafood broth* or water
4-6 sheets fish cake, thin
1 pack (500g) Tteokbboki-Tteok, parboiled
1 stalk of green onion
Sesame seeds (optional)
Shredded Mozzarella (optional)
2 tablespoons gochujang
2 tablespoons pepper powder
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup, you can substitute with sugar or other sweeteners
a generous helping of pepper, ground
1/2 tablespoon garlic, chopped
1- Cut a green onion diagonally.
2- Cut the fish cakes into bite-sized pieces.
3- In a wok, bring the broth and the sauce ingredients to a boil until it becomes thicker.
4- Add parboiled Tteokbboki-Tteok in a wok and simmer for about 20 minutes over the medium-low heat, stir occasionally otherwise it starts sticking to the bottom.
5- Add fish cakes and green onion and cook for about 5 minutes over medium-low heat.
6- Season with pepper and sesame seeds if you want.
7- To make it a Cheese-Tteok-Bo-Kki, melt some shredded mozzarella cheese over a double boiler and add to the finished dish once fully melted.
3 litres of water
2 stalks of green onion
1 tablespoon black pepper, whole
2 dried chilli peppers
40g dried anchovies
1- Combine all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil.
2- When it boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, not covered.
3- Strain the broth through a cheesecloth into a large bowl.
Photos @Aarón Gómez Figueroa