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/
- 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
- 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.
- Meanwhile, cook spaghetti noodles in a separate pot with some salt.
- 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.
- 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.