I’ve incorporated a good deal of familiar Korean ingredients into my diet here, but others have deterred me from cooking Korean food at home. For example, kelp? What am I going to do with leftover kelp? When I hear kelp, my mind automatically thinks Krabby Patty. And dried anchovies? Not a clue. I mean, I’ve been eating these ingredients for months, just not preparing them myself because I have no idea how to use them. Now that my time here in Korea is coming to an end (nine weeks — not that anyone’s counting…), I figured I should get my Korean chef on while ingredients like those mentioned that are difficult to find in the US are sill readily available to me.
For one of my first goes, I decided to try my hand at tteokbokki, a sweet and spicy rice cake dish. One of my favorites. The cook at my school makes the BEST tteokbokki. I’ve never been able to find any as good as hers. My hagwon doesn’t feed the foreign teachers, but in the evenings, the cook used to make snacks for the Korean teachers, and I was once offered some of her tteokbokki. I interpreted that one offer to mean I was allowed to help myself whenever tteokbokki was being served, so I did. Unfortunately, in what I’m assuming was an attempt to save money, the school stopped the evening snack business, so I’ve been forced to look for tteokbokki elsewhere — like my kitchenette.
I based my tteokboki off of this recipe, which I adjusted a bit because, well, I have a high tolerance for spicy food, but the recipe made lava. New law when it comes to food: if it looks like lava, it probablys tastes like lava. But anyway…
– about 2lbs of fresh rice cakes
– 4 green onions
– 4 teaspoons gochujang (you can always add more)
– 7 large dried anchovies
– 1 7in x 7in square of kelp
– 4 cups water
– 1 tablespoon sugar or honey
– 1 1/2 sheets fishcake (6in x 6in sheet)
1. Boil water in a frying pan. Behead and degut anchovies. Add anchovies and kelp to water. Boil for 15 minutes.
2. Remove kelp and anchovies from water. Add rice cakes, green onion, gochujang, sugar/honey, and fishcakes to water.
3. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir to prevent rice cakes from sticking.
And that’s it! Pretty easy. Nowhere near as good as my school’s cook’s, but, it is what it is. More Korean recipes to come…