Published: Oct 29, 2022
Tteokbokki is a Korean street food dish consisting of chewy rice cakes and a funky, spicy-sweet gochujang sauce. While delicious and traditional, the glutinous rice cakes are unfortunately less accessible to those of us without a Korean market around the corner. Luckily, store-bought gnocchi make for a great substitute—the biggest difference is, whereas Korean rice cakes are chewy, the ultimate Italian gnocchi is pillowy soft. Both are enjoyed as a main dish or as a snack (at street stalls in Korea it’s often paired with tempura vegetables). We totally get tteokbokki's versatility—the sauce is so easy and addictive you’ll seek out more opportunities to make it too!
The sauce’s key player is gochujang red pepper, a traditional fermented Korean paste that is made with chili powder, glutinous rice, soybean powder, and salt. You’ll recognize it from dishes like kimchi or bibimbap where it’s often combined with vinegar and sugar to push its flavor profile and cut down on its inherent heat. Here we’ve added mozzarella to help temper that, but if you’re a spice fiend, feel free to add more chili powder on top!
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 c. low-sodium vegetable broth
4 tbsp. gochujang red pepper paste
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 (12-oz.) package fresh gnocchi
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 scallions, cut into 2" pieces, plus more thinly sliced for garnish
1 c. mozzarella
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Make sauce: Whisk together cornstarch and vegetable broth, then add gochujang, sesame oil, sugar, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook gnocchi until they float to the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a large plate.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add as many gnocchi as you can fit in a single layer and sear until browned, about 2 minutes. Flip and sear 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining gnocchi.
Add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and cook garlic and scallions until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add all the gnocchi and the sauce and cook until sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and add mozzarella. Cover and let melt, 1 minute. Garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
Contributing Recipe Developer
Saeng Douangdara is a personal chef and cooking instructor based in LA; he currently develops on recipes, and hosts Tasty’s web series “Smelly Good” showcasing funky ingredients and transforming them into delightful dishes. Whenever he’s out of the kitchen, he’s searching for mouthwatering spicy foods because he lives by the mantra “NO HEAT, NO EAT”.