Carbonara Tteokbokki 까르보나라 떡볶이 (Rice Cakes in Cream Sauce)

Having eaten my fair share of spicy food these past few weeks (okay, more like this past year), I decided to mix things up by making a Korean fusion dish that’s quite popular in Seoul—carbonara tteokbokki. As you can imagine, this is the total opposite of the fiery-red-looking dish that tteokbokki is known for, but once you give it a try you’ll definitely enjoy the combination of flavors and texture: rich, creamy, soft, and chewy are a few that come to mind.  Also, the dish is really easy to make and can be cooked in under 40 minutes. 

Not to irk any of the real cooks and chefs out there, I know that real carbonara does not include any milk or heavy cream (fyi: eggs, cheese, pancetta/bacon, black pepper are the basics), but for some reason the label “carbonara” is ubiquitous here in Seoul, being used as a tool for restaurants to sell their customers a more “Westernized” dish (funny I know, but it works). Personally, I’d like to call it cream tteokbokki, but search engines and my SEO are saying otherwise.

For my recipe, I varied the main ingredients a little by using regular milk, flour (as a thickening agent), Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and the kicker (since I’m in Korea): samgyeopsal (pork belly). Substituting ingredients to your liking is perfectly okay. I also threw in plenty of the usual suspects like tteok (rice cakes) and spaghetti noodles to feed my hungry, impatient guests. Having tried and tested this recipe three times, I can say with certainty that you’ll enjoy this dish.

If you’re interested in the original spicy tteokbokki, here’s a variation that I made a while back using chunks of steak:  http://mykoreaneats.com/2012/09/steak-tteokbokki/

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For this version, I went with oyster mushrooms, onions, and samgyeopsal for the extra ingredients.
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Tteok (rice cake) ready to be used. There are many varieties of tteok, so choose one that fits your palate. If using frozen ones, make sure to soak in water for at least 15 minutes to thaw.
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Rendering the fat from the sampyeopsal and cooking the noodles. Cook the samgyeopsal on low to medium heat until fully browned.
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Parmesan cheese, black pepper, and gochugaru (red pepper flakes). To bring out the best flavors, using real and plenty of Parmesan is recommended.
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Once the samgyeopsal is fully cooked, add in the remaining ingredients hold the noodles. Cook for about 5 minutes on low heat or until tteok has softened. Sample the sauce and adjust accordingly.
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When the tteok is cooked through, add the noodles and mix together.
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Carbonara Tteokbokki ready at last! Here’s the first batch.
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Here’s another version mixing up ingredients. No matter what you add, it should come out tasting pretty rich and creamy.
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This is the last batch, which thankfully is all mine since I have to do a photo shoot of the final product.

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Carbonara Tteokbokki w Samgyeopsal (Rice Cakes w Pork Belly)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Korean Fusion
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb garaetteok (rice cakes)
  • 1 lb samgyeopsal (pork belly strips; or pancetta or bacon)
  • ½ lb spaghetti noodles
  • 1½ cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp of flour (more if necessary)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 cup mushroom of your choice, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese (use fresh if available)
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp gochugaru (red pepper flakes; optional)
  • Salt to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet or non-stick frying pan, cook the samygeopsal on low to medium heat until most of the fat is rendered and the meat is cooked through. Add onion, mushroom, and garlic, saute for a minute with the rendered fat.
  2. Meanwhile, cook spaghetti noodles in a separate pot with some salt.
  3. Using a mixing bowl or closed container, combine the flour and milk until thoroughly mixed. Pour the mixture into the skillet. If you want an extra thick and rich sauce, using heavy cream is recommended.
  4. Throw in the rice cakes and seasoning. Simmer until it becomes creamy, about 5 minutes. Lastly, add the cooked noodles, mix thoroughly, and transfer to a serving dish.
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