Tteokbokki is quintessential Korean street food, as well known as it is easy to make. Thick, chewy tteok, or rice cakes, are simmered in a sweet-spicy gochujang sauce, their ample starches melting into the pot, making the dish thick and silky. When I was growing up in Korea in the 1970s, cheap and fast little tteokbokki places were just starting to pop up, thanks to one lady in particular who ran a popular stand in the neighborhood of Shin Dang Dong in Seoul. Eventually the area became the place to get tteokbokki from dozens of vendors who each prepared theirs with slightly different variations. To that end, I wanted to give you two recipes for this dish: Version 1 is the super-fast, bright-red, one-pot version most people make at home. Version 2 starts with toasted gochujang and umami-rich doenjang, which gives the dish a more complex, slow-cooked flavor, and also has vegetables and toasted rice cakes—my totally non-traditional addition, because I love that crunchy texture. Version 2 was developed by my sous chef at Insa, Yong Shin, at his insistence that the sauce be more flavorful. It’s a company-worthy version of tteokbokki, especially with a soft-boiled egg. But rest assured, both are delicious.
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