Tteokbokki – Spicy, chewy, and downright addictive!! Time to whip up THE most popular Korean classic in your kitchen.
Tteokbokki is more than just a dish. It’s a cultural phenomenon in Korea. From bustling street vendors to hip cafes, this spicy, chewy delight is everywhere, capturing the hearts of both young and old.
Here we’re talking chewy rice cakes simmered in a vibrant, spicy, savory sauce, actins like sponges absorbing those wonderful flavors in every single bite. Whether it’s a quick snack or a hearty meal, Tteokbokki is the go-to choice for those craving a slice of Korean flavor.
Add a couple of soft-boiled eggs and you’ve got a plate of comfort that’s a staple in Korean households. Easy to make, but delivering big on flavor, this is one meal you’ll want to put on repeat. Let’s get cooking and find out why Tteokbokki has taken Korea by storm.
We’ve had some great Korean flavors going in GypsyPlate kitchen over the years. From our favorite Bulgogi and Japchae, to Korean Pork Soup and Ojingeo Bokkeum, we are discovering these cracking Asian flavors all the time.
Now, I’ve wanted to make Tteokbokki for ages, as those bright red spicy flavors kept on enticing me.
It was juts a matter of finding those Korean rice cakes and fish cakes in my local Asian grocery store. And now here is our version of Tteokbokki. It tastes just the way I always dreamt.
I Loved Tteokbokki For
- Texture: The chewy rice cakes offer a unique and satisfying texture that’s hard to resist. They are porous and spongy, allowing them to soak up the sauce they’re cooked in.
- Flavor Explosion: The sauce combines spicy, sweet, and savory elements, creating a complex and addictive taste profile.
- Versatility: From fish cakes to eggs and even cheese, Tteokbokki is highly customizable, allowing everyone to make it their own.
- Comfort Factor: It’s the ultimate comfort food that warms you from the inside, making it a go-to for both quick snacks and hearty meals.
- Ease of Preparation: Simple to make, Tteokbokki is a dish that’s as friendly to the cook as it is to the eater.
- Cultural Appeal: Its widespread popularity in Korea has turned it into a cultural icon, further boosting its allure. Beyond Korea, the dish has garnered international attention, making it a global favorite.
What is Tteokbokki?
Tteokbokki is a popular Korean dish featuring chewy rice cakes cooked in a spicy, savory sauce. Literally translated as “stir-fried rice cake,” tteokbokki (떡볶이) is a beloved meal with many variations and a rich history.
It’s also spelled ddukbokki, ddeokbokki, dukbokki or topokki. The sauce typically includes ingredients like gochujang (Korean red chili paste), gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes), soy sauce, and sometimes sugar.
Often enjoyed as a street food, it can also be found in restaurants and is a beloved comfort food in Korean households.
Tteokbokki has roots going back to the Joseon Dynasty, but the spicy version we know today gained popularity in the 1950s. Initially, it was a sautéed dish made with soy sauce, known as “Gungjung Tteokbokki,” enjoyed by the royal court.
Post-Korean War, the current form quickly became a staple in Korean street food culture and spread its appeal globally.
Different Popular Types of Tteokbokki
Classic Spicy Tteokbokki: This is the most common form, featuring rice cakes in a spicy sauce made primarily from gochujang. It’s the quintessential comfort food for those who love a good kick of heat and that’s what we are making today.
Gungjung Tteokbokki: Also known as “royal court” Tteokbokki, this version uses soy sauce instead of gochujang, offering a less spicy, more savory flavor profile. It often includes vegetables and beef.
Cheese Tteokbokki: Imagine a gooey layer of melted cheese on top of the spicy rice cakes. This modern twist adds a creamy, rich element that perfectly balances out the spiciness.
Ra-bokki: This is Tteokbokki plus ramen noodles. The combination of chewy rice cakes and slurp-worthy noodles in a spicy sauce is downright irresistible.
Seafood Tteokbokki: Loaded with various kinds of seafood like shrimp, squid, and mussels, this version brings oceanic flavors into the spicy, comforting dish.
Rose Tteokbokki: This luscious variant blends the spicy gochujang sauce with a creamy tomato base, often featuring ingredients like heavy cream or milk. The result is a delightful “rose” colored sauce that strikes a harmonious balance between spicy and creamy.
Tteokbokki (Korean Rice Cakes)
These chewy, cylindrical rice cakes are the star of the Tteokbokki. Available in fresh, frozen, and dried forms, they absorb flavors like a sponge, giving the dish its signature taste and texture. The size can vary, with smaller versions cooking faster but offering a quicker flavor absorption.
Fresh is ideal for immediate use, while frozen and dried varieties offer longer shelf life but may require thawing or soaking. You’ll typically find them in Korean grocery stores, but they’re becoming more widely available in international sections of mainstream markets.
If you have access to a Korean grocery store, we highly recommend using fresh rice cakes. They offer the best texture, and provide the most authentic Tteokbokki experience.
Sheets of Fish Cakes (Optional)
Fish cakes, known as “eomuk” in Korean, add a seafood twist and a contrasting texture to Tteokbokki. These processed seafood sheets are made from a blend of white fish, starch, and various seasonings. Available in frozen or refrigerated forms, they can be cut into strips or triangles for added visual appeal.
While optional, they elevate the dish by imparting a different layer of flavor that complements the spicy, chewy rice cakes. If you’re not a seafood fan, or don’t want the fishy taste, feel free to skip them, but traditionally they’re part of the dish.
Gochujang (Korean Chili Paste)
Gochujang is the vibrant heart of many Korean dishes, and in Tteokbokki, it’s the key to that iconic red sauce. Made from a fermented blend of chili peppers, glutinous rice, soybeans, and salt, gochujang offers a multifaceted flavor profile that is spicy, sweet, and umami-rich all at once.
The paste is available in various heat levels, so you can adjust the spice to your liking. It’s typically sold in tubs or squeeze bottles and has a thick, sticky consistency. Store it in the refrigerator after opening to maintain its quality.
Gochugaru (Korean Red Chili Flakes)
Gochugaru, the ground form of sun-dried Korean red chilies, is the spice that kicks your Tteokbokki up a notch. Unlike your average chili flakes, gochugaru has a unique balance of sweet and smoky alongside its heat, which complements the gochujang in creating that crave-worthy, spicy sauce.
The coarseness can vary from fine to flaky, and the heat level can range from mild to fiery. It’s typically packaged in sealed bags and should be stored in a cool, dark place or even the freezer for longer shelf life.
- Chicken Stock or Anchovy Stock: Anchovy stock is more traditional and imparts a deep, authentic flavor, but chicken or vegetable stock works wonderfully too as a sub.
- Soy Sauce: Adds saltiness and depth.
- Sugar: Balances out the spiciness and adds a slight sweetness. You can use brown sugar for a deeper flavor profile.
- Garlic : Brings aromatic undertones to the spicy sauce. Freshly minced is ideal for a robust flavor.
- Soft-Boiled Eggs: A must for any Asian noodle recipe!
- Scallions: Provides a fresh, green crunch and color contrast.
- Sesame Seeds: For garnish.
1. Prep the Rice Cakes: If your rice cakes aren’t fresh and soft, soak them in tap warm water for 15 minutes while you gather your other ingredients.
2. Prepare Fish Cakes: Cut the fish cake into strips and then into small triangles.
3. Make the Tteokbokki Sauce: In a small bowl, mix together the gochujang, gochugaru, soy sauce, sugar, and minced garlic.
4. Make Seasoned Stock: Add your choice of chicken or anchovy stock to a wide pot or pan. Stir in the Tteokbokki sauce until well combined. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.
5. Add Rice and Fish Cakes: Once the seasoned stock is boiling, toss in the rice cakes and fish cakes.
6. Simmer: Reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While it’s simmering, check out our collection of favorite Korean Recipes.
7. Final Touches: In the last few minutes, add the soft-boiled eggs and scallions. Cook for an additional minute or two.
8. Garnish and Serve: Sprinkle sesame seeds and remaining scallions over the top, and your Tteokbokki is ready to enjoy.
Alpana’s Tips and Tricks:
- Choosing the Right Rice Cakes: Go with fresh rice cakes if possible, but if you’re using dried or frozen, make sure to soak them in warm water until they soften. This ensures a perfect, chewy texture.
- Spice Level Adjustments: If you find gochujang and gochugaru too spicy, feel free to adjust the amounts.
- Fish Cakes: Fish cakes add a chewiness and a subtle seafood flavor that many find irresistible in Tteokbokki. However, if you’re not a fan of fish cakes, or if you’re catering to a more selective palate, feel free to skip them. Omitting the fish cakes won’t compromise the essence of the dish.
- Stock Choices: While chicken stock gives a milder flavor, anchovy stock offers authentic Korean taste. Choose based on your personal preference.
- Add Veggies: Want to up the nutritional value? Throw in some vegetables like cabbage, carrots or bok choy for added crunch and color.
- Thickening the Sauce: If you like a thicker sauce, simmer it a little longer but watch closely to avoid it becoming too sticky.
- Serving Hot: Tteokbokki is best served immediately. The longer it sits, the more the rice cakes will absorb the sauce, changing the dish’s texture.
For a cheesy twist on classic Tteokbokki, simply follow your favorite Tteokbokki recipe until you reach the simmering stage. When your rice cakes are soft and the sauce is thickening, scatter slices of mozzarella or cheddar cheese over the top. Let the cheese melt into the sauce by covering the pan for about 2-3 minutes. Remove the lid and give it a gentle stir to combine the gooey, melted cheese with the spicy, umami-rich sauce. The result is a heavenly blend of spicy and cheesy flavors that makes each bite absolutely unforgettable!
To make delicious Rose Tteokbokki, prepare your standard Tteokbokki recipe but with a creamy twist. As your rice cakes and sauce simmer to perfection, add a cup of heavy cream to the mix. Stir until well combined, allowing the sauce to thicken and coat the rice cakes beautifully. This creates a luscious, velvety sauce that marries the spicy kick of traditional Tteokbokki with the rich, comforting notes of a creamy pasta.
To transform your Tteokbokki into a scrumptious Rabokki, simply add instant ramen noodles to the pot during the last 3-5 minutes of the simmering process. Make sure to slightly reduce the amount of rice cakes to make room for the noodles. As the noodles cook, they’ll soak up the spicy, umami-packed sauce, becoming incredibly flavorful. The combination of chewy rice cakes and slurp-worthy ramen noodles coated in that addictive sauce creates a dish that’s the epitome of comfort food. You can also add some veggies like cabbage, onion and carrots in the beginning to give a veggie boost.
Leftovers and Storing
Storing leftover Tteokbokki is a breeze! Once it cools down to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2-3 days. While freezing is an option, be warned that the texture of the rice cakes may change upon reheating.
When you’re ready to enjoy it again, a quick zap in the microwave or a brief simmer on the stovetop will do the trick. If the sauce has thickened, simply add a splash of water or stock to get it back to its original, luscious consistency.
So there you go, one more authentic Asian flavor in your kitchen. Make Tteokbokki, and see for yourself what all the fuss is about. It’s a celebration of bold flavors and comforting textures that come together in perfect harmony.
I guarantee, once you’ve tried this, Tteokbokki will secure a regular spot on your menu. As for me, I am already planning on my next rice cake game – Rabokki!! 🙂
Tteokbokki, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 12oz Tteokbokki (see note 1)
- 1-2 sheets of fish cakes (optional, omit it if you don't like)
- 3 cups chicken stock or anchovy stock
- 3 Tbsp gochujang (Korean chili paste)
- 1 Tbsp gochugaru (Korean red chili flakes)
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-4 soft boiled eggs (see note 2)
- 3-4 scallions, cut into wedges
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- Unless rice cakes are fresh and soft already, soak them in warm water for 15 minutes while you prep the other ingredients for the recipe.
- Cut the fish cake into strips and then into small triangles.
- In a small bowl, mix together the gochujang, gochugaru, soy sauce, sugar, and minced garlic.
- Add the chicken or anchovy stock to a wide pot or pan and stir in the sauce. Mix it well so the Tteokbokki sauce gets dissolved. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Once the seasoned stock is boiling, add the rice cakes and fish cakes.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer it for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. This can take longer, depending on your rice cakes and how thick you want the sauce.
- In the final few minutes, add in soft boiled eggs. Stir in the scallion wedges (leaving a few for garnish), and cook for a minute.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and remaining scallions. Serve immediately.
- Korean rice cakes can be found freshly made, packaged in the refrigerated section, or frozen at a Korean grocery store. You can also buy Shelf-Stable Tteokbokki. These are either in cup form or sealed packs, found in the snack or international food aisle. Freshly made Tteokbokki are the best ones to use if available, and don’t require soaking.
- To make perfect soft-boiled eggs, cook for 7 minutes in boiling water, then immediately place them in an ice water bath to stop them from cooking further. You will be cooking these soft boiled eggs for a few minutes in Tteokbokki sauce, so they will be cooked almost to hard boiled, yet still a little jammy.
- Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2-3 days. Reheat in the microwave, or on stovetop with a splash of extra water or stock.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 468Total Fat 19gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 260mgSodium 2133mgCarbohydrates 49gFiber 3gSugar 19gProtein 25g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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