Tired of the same old tired orange chicken and California rolls? Want to venture beyond the standard suburban-stale take-out? Here comes Chop PHX, with the Valley's rarer Asian offerings.
This Week: Topokki from Paldo Market
The Basics: Aggressively chewy rice cakes, tteok, thin pieces of Korean fish cake called eomuk, carrots and onions
tossed in a spicy but slightly sweet chili sauce. All of which is simmered and then garnished with sesame seeds. It's a great deal like eating chewy gnocchi steeped in a spicy sauce.
Simple and delicious? Find out how to make your own after the jump.
Paldo Market's manager, Sabina Yim, says that topokki is one of the most popular snack foods in Korea. Topokki street vendors whip up steaming plates of this treat for school children and workers alike. Because of its simplicity, it is also extremely popular as a make at home snack. Yim explained that many versions of the dish exist. Variations include thinly sliced meats and seafood.
DIY?: If you like what you eat at the counter and would like to try it at home; conveniently, you're in a market. From the lunch counter you'll want to head across to the other side of the store. To the left of the fish and meat case, sandwiched between the vegetables and the extensive pickle selection you'll find bags of rice cakes, tteok. They come in several varieties but they all taste the same. Small packets of sauce (some with English instructions on the back) should be located above the tteok.
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Give one of the tteok a good squeeze to check for firmness. The harder the tteok, the older it is and the longer it will take to cook. If you really love topokki they have larger bottles of sauce in the chili aisle. Pick up any vegetables you would like to mix in. Do not be afraid to ask for help, the staff at Paldo Market will accomodate your ingredient ignorance.
What to do:
1. Julienne any vegetables you have purchased. Onions are always a winner in this dish.
2. Put a couple handfuls of tteok into a medium sauce pan. Add no more than a single layer of tteok.
3. The next step depends heavily on whatever sauce you have purchased. Generally speaking you're going to add a healthy amount of sauce and then cut it with some water until it has the consistency and spice level you desire.
4. Throw in your vegetables and let the whole thing simmer until the tteok are cooked through. Unlike pasta, tteok are almost impossible to overcook. Unless you boil them back into rice paste, they'll still taste delicious and absorb the sauce.
5. Toss some sesame seeds on top and enjoy.