Insa's Crispy Rice Cake Stir Fry Is Inspired by Korean Street Food
Traditionally, Korean tteokbokki is made by simmering long, cylindrical rice cakes in a bright red, spicy sauce until they're soft. But at Insa, a Korean restaurant located in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, the rice cakes are fried up in a wok until golden brown and crusty, then covered with the spicy, smoky gochujang sauce. The inspiration for this dish, according to Yong Shin, the restaurant's sous chef, was found at a Korean street market. Shin heard about a woman who manned two woks at once: "One is just stir-fried rice cakes. The other is stir-fried rice cakes with gochujang sauce in it, so it's not as crispy as ours, but it's got this wok flavor and it's a little chewy and spicy." And that's where Shin got the idea to stir-fry rather than simmer those rice cakes.
At Insa, the rice cakes are also topped with a fried egg—because it's brunch, after all—and slices of Insa's homemade blood sausage, or soondae, which Pete Wells of the New York Times once called, "wonderfully well made, and not quite like any soondae I’d tasted on 32nd Street or on the kimchi belt along Northern Boulevard in Queens." The result is a crispy rice cake stir fry that'll satisfy —and do a pretty solid job of soaking up any leftover alcohol from the night before, too. (And hey, if the idea of blood sausage freaks you out out too much, don't panic. You can always sub in Insa's house-made Spam.)