Chicken Tteokbokki w Gaetnip 치킨 떡볶이(Spicy Rice Cakes w Perilla Leaves)

Here is another popular Korean dish that is synonymous with Korean food—tteokbokki/dukbokki (spicy Korean rice cakes). I have eaten this more times that I can count,  but apparently not enough since I forgot to post this dish here. This dish is a popular snack (or part of a meal) loved by kids as well as adults because of the variety of rice cakes and its availability in Korea. There are countless street vendors that sell this along with odaeng (fish cakes), soondae (“blood” sausages), and twigim (fried vegetables, tempura) at such a cheap price that it’s simply hard to pass up for the everyday Korean (it’s comparable to fast food  in America). During my Korea days, I used to eat this all the time during my breaks and it always hit the spot. Most of the street vendors (or pojangmacha) serve  this in the same manner—spicy, saucy, slightly sweet, and always delicious. If you are making this at home, you can vary the ingredients to your liking as I did here, using chicken and gaetnip (perilla leaves) to give the dish a fragrant aftertaste.  The result was amazing. I will definitely utilize the leaves in other dishes!

Serves: 4 people
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 16oz package garae tteok (cylindrical shaped rice cakes)
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 cups frozen vegetables (chosen by personal taste)
  • 4 tbsp gochujang (red chili pepper paste)
  • 1 tbsp gochugaru (red chili pepper flakes)
  • 5, 6 perilla leaves (gaednip), cut into strips
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3, 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 cup of water (more if needed)
  • 1 sesame seeds (to garnish)
  • 2 cups eumuk/odaeng (fish cake; optional)

Directions:

1. For frozen tteok, make sure to soak the tteok (rice cakes) in water for about 15-20 minutes or defrost at room temperature.

2. Saute the chicken pieces in a large pot with some olive oil. Cook until slightly browned and add the minced garlic, saute another few minutes.

3. Pour 1 cup water into the pot and boil for a few minutes. Turn heat down to medium and simmer.

4. Add the remaining ingredients (minus the perilla leaves & sesame seeds) to the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Continue cooking until rice cakes are soft and the sauce thickens up.

5. Lastly add the shredded perilla leaves and let simmer for a few minutes.

6. Serve hot with rice or eat by itself.

*Some Koreans like to make a deeper, flavorful broth by boiling kelp, various vegetables, and dried anchovies (myulchi) and using it for the tteokbokki sauce. I have tried both ways (the short and long methods) and there really is not much difference in taste simply because the gochujang (red pepper paste) simply overpowers all other ingredients. However, if you’re a traditionalist and like the extra fishy taste, go ahead and use plenty of myulchi.

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