Tteokbokki, also known as ddeokbokki, topokki (in Japan) or dukboki is a popular Korean snack food which is commonly purchased from street vendors or pojangmacha. Originally it was called tteok jjim (떡찜), and was a braised dish of sliced rice cake, meat, eggs and seasoning.
Tteokbokki is a traditional Korean street food which can be usually purchased from street vendors also called 'pojangmacha' in Korean. The history of tteokbokki brings us back to the late Joseon dynasty. There are many hypotheses and controversy about its real origin. According to bibliographic data, the first tteokbokki in Korean history is said to appear in a cook book called "시의정서 (siui jeongseo)" written in the late Joseon dynasty. However, based on the fact that tteok (the main ingredient, also known as rice cake) was produced even before in the Three Kingdoms period, it's possible to assume that the history is longer than what's usually considered. Tteokbokki can also be found in medical records: a book called "싱뇨찬요 (singnyo chanyo)" written by "전순의 (Jeon Sunui)", a medical officer in the Joseon dynasty (1460). The purpose of the book was to cure people through food and tteokbokki was part of it.
Tteokbokki was also a part of Korean royal court cuisine in the Joseon dynasty. While the modern version of tteokbokki is red and spicy, the original version was brown and plain. It was called "궁중 떡볶이 (gungjung tteokbokki)", Palace Tteokbokki. Just like the name implies, gunjeon tteokbokki was a main example of korean haute cuisine. It was mainly composed with a combination of tteok, meat, vegetables and different kinds of seasoning. After the introduction of gochujang (Korean spicy paste made of chili peppers) due to the Japanese influence in Joseon dynasty, Tteokbokki became red and spicy. It's believed that the main transition from plain to spicy tteokbokki occured during the 1950s after the independence of Korea. In modern days, most of the tteokbokki sold in street vendors is red and spicy.
Following the Korean War a new type of tteokbokki became very popular. While the older version was a savory dish, this latter type was much spicier, and quickly became more popular than the older traditional dish. In addition to traditional ingredients, this tteokbokki used gochujang, a fermented, spicy paste made from chili peppers, along with fish cakes. Other ingredients added to tteokbokki include boiled eggs, pan-fried mandu (Korean dumplings), sausages, ramyeon (which then becomes rabokki/labokki 라볶이), a variety of fried vegetables, and cheese. These days, many kinds of tteokbokki are popular such as seafood tteokbokki (해물 떡볶이) or rice tteokbokki (쌀떡볶이). Flour tteokbokki was popular in early days, but rice tteokbokki is more popular these days.
Sindang-dong in Seoul, where tteokbokki was first sold, is still very famous for the dish and treated as the mekkah or the center of tteokbokki. Since tteokbokki has become one of the most popular dishes, one will easily find a place to enjoy eating tteokbokki in Korea.
- 1 pound of cylinder shaped rice cake, bought or homemade. (Use a little more if you're not adding hard boiled eggs and fish cakes)
- 4 cups of water
- 7 large size dried anchovies, with heand and intestines removed
- 6 x 8 inch dried kelp
- 1/3 cup hot pepper paste
- 1 tbs hot pepper flakes
- 1 tbs sugar
- 3 green onions, cut into 3 inch long pieces
- 2 hard boiled eggs, shelled (optional)
- 1/2 pound fish cakes (optional)
- Add the water, dried anchovies, and dried kelp to a shallow pot or pan.
- Bring to a boil for 15 minutes over medium high heat wihout the lid.
- Combine hot pepper paste, hot pepper flakes, and sugar in a small bowl. Remove the anchovies and kelp from the pot and add the rice cake, the mixture in the bowl, the green onion, and the optional fish cakes and hard boiled eggs.
- Stir gently with a wooden spoon when it starts to boil. Keep stirring until the rice cake turns soft and the sauce thickens and looks shiny, which should take about 7 to 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and serve hot.
Source: Wikipedia, Maangchi