Tteokbokki 떡볶이… the soft, pillowy rice cakes that can come in almost any shape, but are most commonly seen in the form of short, satisfying cylinders. As a complement to larger meals or as the star of a standalone dish, it is easy to see the appeal of this staple in Korean cuisine. Often compared to Western pasta (I like to think of it as “Korean gnocchi”), this subtle but filling ingredient provides the perfect canvas for a variety of sauces and flavors to fully be enjoyed. Although traditionally paired with a gochujang 고추장 (a spicy Korean chili paste)-based sauce, there is one flavor that makes any dish more savory – CHEESE.
Cheese is still not a very common ingredient in Korean cuisine, but the influence of the West has brought it, mostly as a topping, to an increasing number of dishes. The cheese melted on top of dishes is usually mozzarella, but you can find melty, rich cheddar tteokbokki as close as the nearest convenience store.
Ready in less than two minutes, this snack is as convenient as it is tasty. GS25, one of South Korea’s most famous convenience stores, sells a cheddar tteokbokki, included in the Summer edition of the Daebak Box, with a parsley topping, which is hard to believe as “instant food.” To make it EXTRA creamy, you add the cheese packet before dispensing the hot water, and once it is ready, the call of the cheesy goodness is hard to resist.