Tteokbokki (soft rice cakes with vegetables in spicy sauce)

The first time I tried this Korean classic was at the behest of a group of Korean students I was teaching at the time – they’d invited me over to their place for dinner, and spoiled me rotten. I’d never tried anything like it, but one bite taught me there was a world of Korean cuisine waiting for me to get stuck in!

This is an easy dish to prepare, provided you’ve made sure you’ve got the right ingredients in advance, as there are a couple of specialist Korean items you’ll need to source from an Asian food store.

Here’s how to whip up a quick and saucy one-pot dish that’s sure to hit the spot after a hard day’s work…

Flavour: Salty and spicy

Serves: 4 as a side dish, or 2 as the centrepiece of a meal

Ingredients:

  • 200 grams thawed frozen tteok – you can use either the flat, round kind, or the cylindrical kind (you should be able to get these from the freezer section of any Asian grocery store with a Korean foods section)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sunflower oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon doenjang (Korean fermented soybean paste)
  • 1 tablespoon gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar – I use rapadura or coconut palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage (or any other Asian green leafy vegetable)
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • 100 grams tofu, cut into squares

Optional extras (added to the glaze):

  • Sesame seeds, to sprinkle over finished dish
  • Snow peas
  • Broccoli

Directions:

  1. Fry tofu in wok on high heat in mixture of sunflower oil and sesame oil until golden
  2. Toss in garlic, and fry for 1 minute
  3. Toss in cabbage and carrots, and fry for 2 minutes
  4. Whisk doenjang, gochujang, sugar, soy sauce and water in a small bowl, and add to the wok
  5. Stir through and cook for 2 minutes
  6. Add tteok to wok, stir, and simmer for 5 minutes
  7. Stir in spring onions, take off heat, and leave to cool and thicken for 1-2 minutes before serving
  8. Stir through, and plate up sprinkled with sesame seeds

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