Gireum tteokbokki (or gireum ddukbokki) translates to “oil rice cakes” in Korean. Unlike the saucy tteokbokki simmered with gochujang, this version is a dry saute of rice cakes tossed in a soy sauce or spicier gochugaru marinade. The result is super chewy rice cakes that are crispy on the outside and richer in flavor. Among the many food stalls and shops in Tongin Traditional Market in Seoul, Korea, one particular vendor, Wonjo Halmeoni Tteokbokki ("Original Grandma's Tteokbokki"), makes spot-on, irresistible gireum tteokbokki. I created this recipe as an homage to their signature dish.
Bring a large pot of water to boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, prepare the marinades.
For the soy sauce marinade: Stir together the sugar, soy sauce, corn syrup, garlic and sesame oil in a large bowl and set aside.
For the gochugaru marinade: Stir together the soy sauce, sugar, coarse and fine gochugaru, corn syrup, garlic and sesame oil in a large bowl and set aside.
For the tteok: Add the tteok to the boiling water and cook, stirring constantly to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot, until softened, about 2 minutes. Drain and divide the tteok evenly between the marinades. Toss and coat the tteok completely in its respective marinade. If any tteok stick together, separate them and toss well.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the neutral oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the soy sauce tteok with its marinade and cook, tossing and stirring gently and constantly with two wooden spoons without tearing or breaking the tteok, until the liquid evaporates and the tteok is glossy and shiny, about 5 minutes. Transfer to one side of a serving plate, leaving the other side empty for the gochugaru tteok.
Wipe the skillet clean and heat the remaining neutral oil over medium heat. Add the gochugaru tteok and its marinade and repeat the cooking process, until the tteok is slightly dark red and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Gochugaru can burn easily so it is important to keep stirring and tossing. Transfer to the empty side of the serving plate and serve immediately.
Fine gochugaru is available at Korean markets or online. Alternatively, you can pass coarse gochugaru through a fine-mesh sieve to make it finer.
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