[Dining In] Enjoying a Korean favorite in the comfort of your own home
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to linger, people continue to adapt and change their eating habits. There has been a surge in the sales of frozen food items while restaurants — which didn't offer delivery options in the past —have had to adjust to the needs of customers who don't feel safe dining out. To better understand this new trend and offer our readers more exciting dining options, the Korea JoongAng Daily will be introducing one packaged item or one restaurant offering delivery options and reviewing the experience.
Many Koreans choose tteokbokki, sticky rice cake covered in a spicy sauce made with hot pepper flakes and paste, as something they “have to” and “want” to eat regularly. There is even a book out there with a title that translates to “I want to eat tteokbokki even if I were to die the next day.”
It is no exaggeration to say that while most Koreans have at least one go-to tteokbokki place, they continue to look for details on what options out there might appeal to their taste. Each restaurant uses different proportions of crucial ingredients like gochujang (hot pepper paste) and gochugaru (hot pepper flakes). Some choose to have sticky tteok made with rice, while others use tteok made from flour.
One option that seems to be widely loved, at least among the pool of packaged frozen tteokbokki, is the version from Miro Sikdang.
The tteobokki at Miro was never a regular menu item and still isn’t. It was something special the owner and chef often made for his friends and regulars. Given that the restaurant was already a place that’s difficult to get a reservation at due to the limited seating and surge in popularity, the fact that tteokboki is a special menu item made many long for a chance to try the spicy sticky rice cake dish even more. A photo of the tteokbokki bowl shared on social media also ignited massive interest from the online community.
As the curiosity about the taste of tteobokki served at Miro continued to grow, many who didn’t get a chance to venture out to the restaurant in Mapo District, western Seoul, rushed online to buy the packaged rice cake, first introduced in November exclusively on Market Kurly. Restaurant company SG Dinehill made it possible to bring the flavors and texture of the dish into a deliverable frozen package, and Kurly delivers it to individual homes. SG Dinehill has been working with restaurants that didn’t have such mailable packages before so that diners can enjoy the food from home.
The Miro tteokboki is not only the No. 1 item in Kurly’s tteokboki category in terms of sales, but it is also one of the top three most sold items on the platform. Since its release in November until Aug. 25, over 600,000 packages have been sold.
Inside the package are three different smaller packs. One is the tteok, made of flour, whose size is about as long as your thumb, another one is fish cake and the last one is the spicy sauce. Cooking the tteokboki is very simple. Just add the sauce to some boiling water and when the broth turns red, continue to boil the tteok and fish cake under high heat for about five minutes. This version is supposed to have some broth left in the bowl.
Since it is more watery than other tteokbokki, many use that as a chance to add additional ingredients like wide glass noodles or ramyeon. Just add whatever variation of noodles you like to the broth when you are cooking it.
The sauce initially has a sweet flavor but underneath is a layer of spiciness.The mix of sweet and spicy creates harmony as you chew. The fact that it is soupy gives the feeling of a comfort food.
It is relatively easy to fine tune the sauce as you can dilute it with more water to make it milder, or boil it down for stronger flavors. It is also a great base if you want to add your own seasonings to make the dish appeal to your exact tastes.
One pack is priced at 4,900 won ($4) and contains enough for one portion for two if you add some noodles. The affordable price is another attractive point to allure more home diners, Kurly said. When you order before 11 p.m., you will get it delivered at your door by the morning of the next day.
BY LEE SUN-MIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]