Tteokbokki (떡볶이) are a typical Korean dish also counted in street food: it is easy to buy them at stalls or small cafeterias. This is an extremely cheap and popular dish, which consists of glutinous rice dumplings (tteok) stir-fried with a spicy and savory sauce.
The history of tteokbokki dates back to the 1800s, when they were consumed in a white version at the royal court.
Starting from the 1950s, it is said that they appeared in the Sindang district (Seoul) in today's red version, becoming famous in the following years as a working class food (which replaced rice with rice dumplings).
There are really many varieties in the type of tteokbokki recipe, here I present the most classic one. I used hard boiled egg because it is very common to add it but it is optional. In the same way you can decide to add fish cakes or not.
Choose a quality rice dumpling that does not need to be soaked in cold water overnight (check the packaging) if you want to save time. I used the ones ready for cooking, otherwise plan accordingly.
If you do not have the kombu seaweed and the granular fish nut, use plain water, even if the taste will be milder.
The recipe is for two people.
500 gr rice dumplings (cylindrical shape)
1 piece of kombu seaweed
1 teaspoon of granulated fish nut
1 1/2 tablespoon gochujang
1 1/2 tablespoons gochugaru
1 teaspoon of honey (or syrup)
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar (white or brown)
1 spring onion cut into four
1 hard-boiled egg (from which you have removed the shell)
1 crushed garlic
- Start by preparing the red sauce by mixing gochugaru, gochujang, soy sauce, honey, sugar and garlic thoroughly in a bowl. Keep aside.
- Pour plenty of water into a pan with high sides, pour the fish cube and the kombu seaweed. Bring to a boil and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Skim the broth and remove the kombu seaweed. Pour in the rice dumplings, the hard-boiled egg and the spring onion. Add the red sauce (use a little hot broth to dilute the sauce remaining in the bowl and pour it into the pan).
- Cook over medium heat for about 20/25 minutes, so that the sauce is narrow and thick. Serve immediately.