rice cake (tteokbokki) gnocchi mac & cheese style

rice cake gnocchi.jpg

We grew up eating kimchi with spaghetti, Mom surprised us the first time she made traditional Italian tomato sauce, she got the recipe from one of the Italian customers at the store. She made this often in the basement of the store and the smell would just fill up the place. As it simmered for hours, it tested our patience.

This recipe calls for a simple sauce, feel free to use any of your favorite store bought marinara sauce, we’ll flavor it with kimchi and kimchi sauce, then bake it with rice cake (tteokbokki) gnocchi, with cheese of course. As the ingredients bake and come together, the rice cakes become pillowy and the sauce creamy and piquant. Warm & comforting like a big hug. If you don’t have access to rice cake, use your favorite macaroni.

what you will need:

  • 1 Tbsp of oil for sweating vegetables

  • ½ onion, minced (optional)

  • 1 carrot, minced (optional)

  • 1 Tbsp of butter or plant-based substitute

  • 1 Tbsp of all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup of milk or plant-based milk, warmed

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional)

  • ½ cup of chopped kimchi

  • 2 Tbsp (or to taste) Kimchi Sauce

  • 1-40oz jar of marinara sauce

  • 1 cup of grated cheese or substitute

  • 2 lbs of fresh rice cake cylinders (or refrigerated packages*), cut into ½” pieces

Serves 4.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sweat vegetables:  In a fry pan, on low-med heat, add oil and let it warm up.  Add onion, carrot and let it sweat; lower heat if vegetables start to brown, add a little bit of water if required.  Stir occasionally to avoid browning.  Once the onions are translucent and carrots soften, remove off heat, and place the vegetables into a bowl and place off to the side.

For the roux:  Place the pan back on the heat at medium, melt butter, next add flour and stir to avoid scorching.  Reduce heat to med-low.  Let mixture cook gently, to avoid raw flour taste, continue to stir about 45 seconds.  Slowly add warm milk into the mixture, stir continuously to remove any lumps and avoid burning until till tiny bubbles form. 

Next, stir in garlic, chopped kimchi, kimchi sauce and the sweated vegetables into the mix.  Add the marinara sauce, stir and bring to a gentle boil.  At this point, add cheese, stir, and remove from heat.

In a baking pan, spoon sauce and spread across the bottom of the pan.  Place the rice cake pieces into the pan, pour in the sauce to the desired consistency.  Mix to incorporate sauce evenly throughout.  To avoid clumping, make sure to use enough sauce to coat each rice cake. 

Cover with foil, bake in oven for 35-45 mins, till rice cakes are soft and pillowy.  Remove from oven, let rest for 5 minutes.  Remove foil carefully to prevent burn from the steam.  Serve in bowls, add additional cheese if desired, and garnish with fresh chopped green onions.

*If using refrigerated packaged rice cakes, soak rice cakes in cold water for 30 minutes before baking.

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