Name: SamYang Topokki – Red Pepper Paste Dipped Snack
Found at: H-Mart, Garden Grove
Wheat Flour, Topokki Seasoning (Raw Sugar, Corn, Roasted Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Red Pepper Powder), Palm Oil, Starch Syrup, Red Pepper Paste, Monohydrate Dextrose, Refined Salt, Ammonium Bicarbonate (E-503), Oleoresin Paprika, Topokki Paste (refine Sugar, Red pepper Paste, Onion Powder, Red Pepper Powder, Starch Syrup, HVP) Sodium Bicarbonate (E-500), Yeast Extract Seasoning Powder, Parsley Leaf Granules, Smoke Flavor, Oleoresin Capsicum Coating Powder.
Why I Bought It:
Tteokbokki, cylindrical rice cakes stir fried with so much red pepper paste it glows, is a common street food in Korea. Outside of Korea it's largely unknown to anyone but Koreans. As such, there's a movement to change the spelling to “topokki” to popularize it to the world. A group called the Topokki Food Research Institute (I am absolutely not making this up) has plans to make topokki the next pad thai.
I am not sure if this snack is part of their strategy, but it certainly should be even if any similarities to topokki ends pretty much when you open the bag and peek inside. These crispy snacks look more like rigatoni than the traditional rice cakes they sell on the streets of Seoul.
The snacks are so completely coated with a sugary-red candy coating it's shiny. The first taste is sweet. Really sweet. Almost caramel-like. You look at the front of bag with the chili pepper graphics and fiery-red fonts and scoff at the mere idea that these are supposed to be spicy. Then the burn hits the back of your throat as soon as the sweetness dissipates. And the heat builds and builds the more you eat, until you realize, you're sweating. Buck up though. This is just practice to build a tolerance for the real thing when the TFRI succeeds.