The sixth day of tteok: Beef Bolognese tteokbokki
Today’s tteokbokki (떡볶이) recipe as part of my 12-day countdown to the Korean New Year keeps us on the Italian peninsula by using Bologna’s famous sauce as the wardrobe for the tteok noodles.
When I lived in South Korea, I did not know much about cooking. My cooking skills were limited to grilled cheese sandwiches and the occasional one-pot meal, usually featuring a couple of chicken breasts thrown in a rice cooker with two cups of rice mixed with random spices thrown in for flavor.
The last three months or so in Korea, we had a Korean woman who made lunch for us every day. When she wasn’t making Korean foods like japchae, she was making some kind of Korean fusion recipe (with interesting results). When she made Bolognese sauce for us, I though the diced carrots were a Korean innovation. It wasn’t until much later I discovered spaghetti Bolognese and realized why the carrots were there. Our Korean cook was right; I was the babo (바보, “dummy”).
There’s only one difference between this recipe and hers. I remember our Korean cook’s version was a bit sweeter — maybe because she didn’t put wine in her sauce — than the version I have here. Hubby liked mine better though.
1 carrot, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 pound ground beef
2 cans (15 ounce) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup red wine (use a brand you’d actually drink, not “cooking wine”)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons basil
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon lemon peel, grated
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme, dry
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound garae tteok, presoaked
- Soak garae tteok (가래떡), 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 noodles you bought at the Korean grocery store or Asian supermarket for recommendations on this step.)
- Saute carrots, garlic, onion, celery and green pepper in oil on medium high heat.
- Add ground beef and brown. Drain fat.
- Add tomato sauce, water, red wine, sugar and Italian seasoning. Cover sauce and simmer for 30 minutes.
- During the last five to 10 minutes of cooking time, add the garae tteok and simmer until they’re tender.
The leftover sauce — if there is any — will match well with any pasta, particularly penne.
Homemade Bolognese Sauce