Tteokbokki is a Korean street food snack made primarily of chewy rice cakes and fiery, funky gochujang chili paste. In Lonely Planet's The World's Best Spicy Food, the cakes are tossed with slices of fried eomuk fish cake, cabbage, scallions, and garlic. Salty anchovy stock bolsters the gochujang and gochugaru chili flakes add even more heat. The final assemblage is unabashedly spicy, but impossible to put down. Eat it between sips of cold, cheap beer for the perfect Friday night meal.
Why I picked this recipe: I always find myself ordering a version of this dish every time I visit my favorite Korean fried chicken restaurant (in addition to the fried chicken, of course). It was about time I made it at home.
What worked: This recipe really is as simple as throwing a few ingredients in a pot and letting it simmer. Whatever effort required to find the ingredients is definitely worth it.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: It'd be hard to make this dish without the listed ingredients. If you don't have access to a Korean grocery store, you should be able to order the ingredients online. Gochujang will keep for a long time in the fridge, and the remaining hard-to-find ingredients can be frozen. So order in bulk, and you can make tteokbokki whenever a craving strikes!
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, SFoodie, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.