In my 25 years of life, I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to a handful of countries. Though I have been to three continents, I can still say with certainty that my heart belongs to Asia. To me, the countries in Asia alone will leave your soul satisfied in every aspect, may it be culture, cuisine, or beauty.
When I visited South Korea for the very first time last March, I had the same old feeling of excitement I usually have when venturing to a new place. But the longer I stayed in Seoul, the more I thought that this trip felt different. It wasn’t until I came home that I realized Seoul had silently crept its way to the top of my heart. I came home filled with the fondest memories– the kind that I haven’t had in many years of traveling.
For all its quirks, after just four days in Seoul, it became one of my favourite places among all that I have ever visited. I enjoyed sifting through the wares and the foods at Namdaemun Market; talking to the shop-owners and then pretty much stuffing myself silly with Bibim Naengmyeon. (My fave!)
I breathed in the crisp spring air as I walked up the steep slope towards Ihwa Mural Village, and subsequently had my mind blown by the amazing art on the walls and on the stairs.
I loved getting my shop on at the busy streets of Myeongdong, accompanied by some warm gyeran bbang in my hands of course.
Simply put, there were many things I loved about Seoul, and I have no doubt there is so much more I am yet to discover about it and South Korea in general. Since coming home, I’ve felt so compelled to travel back that I’ve been asking anyone who’ll listen to accompany me! (You can ask my friends haha!) Of course, on my next trip, I’m thinking of exploring some other places in South Korea like Busan or Incheon.
Truth be told, I’ve been working on my Seoul Travel Series to share on this blog for a while now, but I want it to be so perfect that I seem to be having some difficulty expressing how I felt into words. (I’m working on the travel video too! It will come out soon, don’t worry.) But then this Wow Korea contest was brought into my attention, and so I thought, yeah, maybe I’ll write something after all. Whether or not I win this contest, I want to return to South Korea again soon.
On, and I seriously miss the tteokbokki from Hongdae. That is precisely why I’m sharing a Tteokbokki Recipe on the blog right now! I guess you can tell how much I’m missing Seoul in general because I have resorted to cooking Korean street food in my own kitchen.
In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge fan of these spicy rice cakes. I miss and crave it quite often since coming back from Korea.
Thankfully there are some bingsu shops here that serve tteokbokki now, although I think we can agree it’s also really great to have a tteokbokki recipe in your pocket for when a strong craving hits. My Mom likes to stock our fridge with frozen rice cakes (and odeng!) so that I can make these. 🙂
A little tip for ensuring that your rice cakes becomes soft once you cook it is to soak it in some water for 20 minutes before you start the tteokbokki recipe. I’ve had some of my friends tell me they don’t like tteokbokki because the ones they’ve had in wannabe Korean restaurants (not owned by actual Koreans) are too hard, and that just increases my drive to introduce them to properly cooked tteokbokki. Hobing serves some pretty good ones!
The secret to a tteokbokki recipe that tastes similar to the ones in South Korea is the broth. Anchovy broth, to be exact. The first time I made this I used vegetable stock and though it was delicious, it did not taste the same as the real thing.
My mother managed to source out some anchovy powder from one of our favourite Korean groceries, and I can tell you that makes a huge difference. Still not quite the same thing as boiling anchovy stock using actual dried anchovies with kelp, but it’s a decent substitute.
For my toppings, I decided to add some dumplings aside from my triangle fish cake. Normally, when you buy tteokbokki from the streets of Seoul, you’ll get just odeng and sometimes hotdog slices alongside the rice cakes. Adding some dumplings is a good way to amp up your homemade tteokbokki, methinks.
And by the way, I really like my tteokbokki spicy. If you don’t, I think you should proceed with a light hand as you add the hot pepper flakes (or omit it if you want). I love the taste of gochujang so I don’t recommend holding back on that, unless you really have a weakness for spicy food.
You can also top this with some mozarella cheese to help balance out the spiciness!
Serves 4 to 6
- 500 grams frozen rice cakes, soaked in water for at least 20 minutes
- 4 cups stock (preferably anchovy)*
- 1/3 cup gochujang
- 1 Tablespoon hot pepper flakes (or less if less spicy taste is preferred)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 3 green onions, cut into 3-inch long pieces
- Optional toppings: hard-boiled eggs, odeng fish cake (cut into triangles) or assorted fish balls, sesame seeds, sliced green onions, mozzarella cheese
- 1. Bring your stock to a boil. Meanwhile, combine gochujang, hot pepper flakes, and sugar in a small bowl.
- 2. Once the stock is boiling, add in the gochujang mix, green onions, and the rice cakes. Stir gently until combined and let it come to a boil.
- 3. Once it starts to bubble, add in your toppings and let it come to a boil again.
- 4. Stir tteokbokki until the rice cakes are soft, and the sauce thickens and looks shiny. (If the sauce has reduced too much but the rice cakes are not soft enough to your liking, you can add a bit of water and resume stirring.)
- 5. Remove from heat, then top with sesame seeds and sliced green onions. You can also add mozzarella and let it melt into the sauce. Serve hot.
- *You can use whatever stock is available, but anchovy stock as the Koreans use definitely makes a HUGE difference in flavour. It really tastes better.
As I’m still preparing my Seoul Travel Diaries and Videos, you might want to check out my Travel Gallery for now just to get you into a sense of wanderlust! 😉