There isn’t really anything in Western cuisine that can be compared to tteokbokki. If you have ever tried mochi, it’s sort of similar, but chewier and usually savoury. The texture can be something of a surprise to an unaccustomed palate, but if you like it, you’ll find them incredibly moreish.
‘Tteok’ just means a rice cake, nothing like the crispy ones we are used to, but one made from glutinous rice flour, which is mixed to a paste and then steamed. Tteokbokki literally means “fried rice cakes”, but they don’t have to be fried. If you have ever watched a Korean Drama, the characters usually visit a street stand at some point, to buy a tray of tteokbokki in a red, spicy sauce.
You won’t find them in a regular supermarket unless there is a large Korean population in your town. Instead search for an Asian supermarket, there will likely be one in your nearest city centre. Coventry, the city nearest me, has at least four in the centre and one out of town.
Fresh is best, if you can only get frozen, let them thaw out first. If you try to cook from frozen they will split. Don’t try to fry them in a pan that isn’t non-stick, because they stick, BIG TIME. Judy Joo’s suggestion to use a hot grill instead saves a lot of bother, and ruined frying pans. Oh, and you can get pots of microwaveable instant tteokbokki as well, I love it!
Easy Crispy Tteokbokki serves 2
- 225g cylindrical rice cakes (Tteok or dduk)
- 1tsp vegetable or olive oil
- 1tsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp chilli flakes, preferably Korean gochugaru
- Pinch of salt
- toasted sesame seeds for sprinkling
Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the rice cakes.
When they float to the top they are cooked, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl.
Add the oils, chilli, and salt and stir to coat evenly. You might need a bit more sesame oil if they look a bit dry.
Spread evenly on a baking tray. Cook under a hot grill for about five minutes, turning once during cooking, until the outside is beginning to blister.
Divide between serving dishes and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Eat as they are, but they’re even better with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.