Tteokbokki Nachos - 떡볶이 나초스
Updated: Aug 16, 2020
My wife is always impressed with my Korean food. The other day, my father in law, who has called me a "rock head" on more than one occasion, gave me $100 for making him such good food. Point: people are generally surprised that I can make real Korean food well.
To be fair, I didn't grow up with it. I didn't watch my mother and grandmother make mandu from scratch. I didn't start eating it until I met my wife a decade ago. I grew up eating pork chops, meatballs, and mashed potatoes. In college I lived off of cheeseburgers, french fries, and peanut butter.
Korean food for me was a way to access my wife's culture and show her family that I cared. Her parents don't speak much English and I speak just as much Korean, so our communication has always been somewhat limited. Without words, food was how we relayed our acceptance of each other. Her mom would make me TONS of food and I would eat it, all of it, no matter how full I was. It was how she showed her care for me, and how I showed my appreciation of her. I would eat anything she put in front of me... which led me to eat some interesting things, some of which I ended up loving (jokbal) and some of which I will never, ever, eat again (sea squirts).
Because so much of our communication was through cooking and eating, I started communicating about the food, asking how things were made and spending time learning how she made things. While everyone else was inside watching soccer, I was outside with my jangmoneem making kimchi (with the kimchi gloves). I watched as she used her palm for measuring, added Sprite to broths, and folded dumplings perfectly. Eventually, what started as a polite curiosity turned into a serious hobby. I proudly wait for her approval whenever I cook for her (though she's too nice to criticize), and I ask for her advice on how to make my dishes better and wait for her gentle encouragement like, "That's edible!"
This whole thing, Baekin Kitchen, started when she came to live with us in January to help with our newborn while my wife and I worked. Spending so much time with someone and not be able to truly say "thank you" was hard, so I turned to food.
Back to Tteokbokki Nachos: This blog comes from a place of love, but it's admittedly ridiculous that I make Korean food. I can make the traditional stuff, but there are times when I definitely get unorthodox and drive my wife crazy. It's ridiculous that I'm doing this anyway, so why not make some ridiculous ass nachos.
TTEOKBOKKI is a common street and pub food in Korea. Tteok (or dduk) is usually boiled in a spicy gochujang broth mixed with fishcakes, pork, noodles, cheese, onions and any combination therein.
I have found that tteok is great when it's fried. Normally soft and chewy, the tteok gets a crispy outside, retains it's soft inside, and develops a salty/peppery flavor. It's addictive, like popcorn, when sprinkled with a little salt.
The logical next step was to make them into nachos, but not just any nachos - these are TTEOKBOKKI NACHOS! Mounds of crispy rice cakes, oodles of cheese, pounds of pork belly, and fish cakes, and onions, and not-so-secret sauce gochujang sauce. It's addictive and you really can't beat the chewiness of the tteok. I know it's weird, but the corn adds a bit of sweetness and crunch to this mountain of awesome. And the whole thing is tied together with the spicy sauce. WE. COULD. NOT. STOP. EATING.
Cooking Note: Rice cakes are tricky - if you have frozen rice cakes, you'll have to defrost and boil them. But, the moisture makes them especially sticky and difficult to fry because everything sticks to everything. Not fun. If you do this method, make sure you use a non-stick pan. We've been able to buy vacuum sealed fresh tteok. If your tteok is fresh, just add it to the oil in the pan it makes them slightly more dense, but just as delicious.
See "Dadaegi Sauce" for the special gochujang sauce. If I haven't posted it yet, check the Busan Milmyeon post for the recipe.
Warning: This recipe is not health food
1/4 lb pork belly
1/4 - 1/2 onion, sliced
2 sheets of fish cake (어묵)
1/2 cup of corn
1 ramen noodle pack (optional)
1/4 cup of green onion
1 king oyster mushroom
1 lb of tubular rice cakes
LOTS OF CHEESE (Mozzarella was the winner for us)
1) Slice the pork belly into 1" wide strips and cook in a deep pan or wok.
2) Remove pork belly but keep oil in pan.
3) Slice fish cake into thin strips about 2" long and 1" wide. Stir fry in the same pan that the bacon was in, using the bacon fat to cook the fish cake. Stir frequently. Remove when fish cakes are evenly browned.
4) Add enough rice cakes to the pan to have a single layer and enough room to move them around. You may have to do several batches. (see note above).
5) Slice mushrooms into thin strips and saute lightly in the pan. This brings out a bit of flavor in the king oyster mushroom.
6) At some point in the process, if you are including noodles, boil the ramen noodles in a separate pot. Drain and put aside when done.
5) Layers are the key. On a sheet pan, or oven save plate, lay down a bed of rice cakes, top with cheese, corn, fish cakes, mushroom, onions, pork belly and sauce (and some noodles). repeat.
6) Place in oven and bake at 375 for 5-10 minutes. I go by the cheese - when it starts to brown and bubble, it's ready.
7) Throw some green onions and corn on top just before you pull it out.
8) Place nachos in the middle of table, and dig in with some hefty chopsticks.