The seventh day of tteok: Chicken in mole poblano tteokbokki
For today’s installment of the 12-day countdown to the Korean New Year, I’m bringing tteokbokki (떡볶이) to the new world, first stop in Mexico. Due to the labor-intensive nature of traditional Mexican mole sauces, I am not going to make this mole from scratch. The mole that Americans recognize is mole poblano.
Mole poblano is prepared with dried chili peppers (commonly ancho, pasilla, mulato and chipotle), ground nuts and/or seeds (almonds, indigenous peanuts, and/or sesame seeds), spices, Mexican chocolate (cacao ground with sugar and cinnamon and occasionally nuts), salt, and a variety of other ingredients including charred avocado leaves, onions, and garlic. Dried seasonings such as ground oregano are also used. In order to provide a rich thickness to the sauce, bread crumbs or crackers are added to the mix.
Notice that the sauce has an appearance similar to jjajangmyun (짜장면, Korean black bean paste noodles). This recipe could make an interesting North American alternative for jjajangmyun when “Black Day” comes around on April 14. Something to think about.
1 pound garae tteok noodles (가래떡), presoakedpaste
1/4 cup mole poblano
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound chicken thighs, diced
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds for a garnish
- Before you start making the sauce, soak your garae tteok, which are the fat cylindrical rice noodles traditionally used in tteokbokki, in a hot water bath — not boiling water — for 10 minutes. (Check the instructions on the package of tteok you bought at the Korean grocery store for recommendations on this step.) Dry them off.
- Sauté the chicken thighs, garlic and onion in grapeseed oil until the chicken is about halfway cooked.
- Add the chicken stock and mole paste.
- Once the mole sauce has returned to a boil, put in the tteok and cook for an additional five to seven minutes until the tteok is cooked.