Red food alert! It’s Tteokbokki time! Loaded with fiery gochujang, these spicy Korean rice cakes are perfectly chewy and ready in under 35 minutes from start to finish.
Tteokbokki – Spicy Korean Rice Cakes
Sometimes, I just start craving spicy food!
And these cravings tend to come out of nowhere. One minute I’m at my computer, tapping out tweets and writing about how to cook rice – and the next I’m dreaming about devouring fiery doenjang jjigae by the delicious spoonful!
Well, as afflictions go, wanting to eat spicy Korean food is about as good as they get.
And I have a foolproof solution for the next time my spicy-food craving rears its head.
You see, this filling tteokbokki recipe is just brimming with the well balanced heat only a good fermented gochujang can bring (more on that kitchen miracle worker in a sec).
It’s the perfect recipe to whip up when I need a Korean food fix – but have a short amount of time to cook.
So, let’s take a closer look at delicious, intense and flaming hot tteokbokki!
What is tteokbokki?
Tteokbokki (ddeokbokki – 떡볶이) are Korean hot and spicy rice cakes.
Cylindrical, chewy white rice cake noodles called tteok are stir fried in a delicious spicy gochujang based sauce.
Savory elements are added to the sauce by way of anchovy stock, dried kelp and a splash of sesame oil.
One of the most famous Korean street-foods, tteokbokki is fiery, savory and slightly sweet food perfection!
And grabbing steaming plate of chewy tteokbokki is the ultimate late night indulgence to devour after a few drinks with friends or co-workers.
But it’s also a breeze to make at home.
As for how-to-pronounce this tongue-twister of a word, I’ve found saying, “dukbokki” usually raises the fewest eyebrows when ordering at a restaurant in New York’s Koreatown. But, I’m probably still butchering the language without meaning to, ha 🙂
However, no matter how hard it is for me to say correctly, this tteokbokki recipe is super easy to whip up in just over 30 minutes!
Ingredients for Tteokbokki
- Tteokbokki (떡볶이떡): The main ingredient for this recipe. Once cooked, Korean rice cakes are chewy and slightly sweet in flavor.
- Anchovy stock (육수): Anchovy stock is quintessential to Korean cooking. It adds pungency and depth of flavor and tastes very similar to Japanese dashi, which is most often made using bonito flakes or sardines.
- Dried kelp: Dried kelp has a mineral element that adds an extra layer of brininess to the stock. Make sure to remove it right before the water starts to boil as it gets slimy.
- Gochujang: Another very popular ingredient in Korean cooking, gochujang adds plenty of heat and smokiness to dishes. I always recommend starting off with a little and working your way up as it can get pretty fiery.
- Gochugaru: These bright red pepper flakes may look scary at first but they are not spicy at all. The are mostly smoky and a little sweet.
- Soy sauce: Adding a splash of soy sauce infuses the dish with umami and pairs beautifully with fish stock.
- Sugar: Sugar helps tone down the saltiness of the dish and brings balance to it.
- Korean fish cakes: Authentic Korean food can be very pungent and these fish cakes definitely pack a punch in that department!
- Sesame oil: Add it once the cooking process is finished to preserve the delicate nutty flavor. A little goes a long way with sesame oil.
- Scallions: The chopped scallions add a really nice and refreshing crunch to the dish.
- Sesame seeds: Optional but recommended if you like lots of nuttiness!
How to Make Tteokbokki:
If your rice cakes come out of the package on the hard side, it’s a good idea to soak them in water for 10-15 minutes. If they’re already soft, you should be good to go.
- Making the stock: Pour the anchovy stock in a medium size pot along with a 6×6-inch piece of dried kelp, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, simmer for 10 minutes and remove the kelp.
- Adding the seasonings: Turn the heat back up and stir in the gochujang (Korean red chili paste), gochugaru (Korean chili flakes), soy sauce and sugar.
- Cooking the rice cakes: When the stock in boiling, add the rice cakes and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until they are soft. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent the rices cakes from sticking together or to the bottom of the bottom.
- Cooking the fish cakes: Chop the fish cakes into bite size pieces and add them to the pot. Cook for 4 minutes.
- Serving tteokbokki: Turn the heat off and add the sesame oil and scallions. Stir and serve tteokbokki in a bowl with sesame seeds on top (optional).
Spicy, nutty, savory, sweet and super filling – I promise it’s going to be a hit!
Shopping for Tteokbokki Ingredients
While the flavor profile may seem exotic and slightly intimidating to attempt for the first time, let me assure you that getting the taste right at home is a breeze!
And, since the lion’s share of the flavor in this spicy tteokbokki sauce is due to Korean chili paste, you’re definitely going to want to pick up some gochujang.
It’s the trademark red, thick, spicy and sweet paste – made of chilis, fermented soybeans, glutinous rice, and salt – that provides the backbone to many Korean dishes.
You can pretty easily find most of the other ingredients you’ll want to have handy in your pantry for this yummy tteokbokki recipe on Amazon:
- Gochugaru (powdered Korean chili pepper flakes)
- Anchovy soup stock
- Dried kelp
- Sesame oil
- Korean rice cakes
It’s amazing how much flavor you’ll get for your own homemade tteokbokki sauce from a relatively short ingredients list!
Is tteokbokki vegan?
This tteokbokki recipe is not vegan.
That said, if you’d like to make a vegan version it can totally be done with minimal hassle!
Simply use plain water in place of the anchovy stock – and omit the Korean fish cakes altogether – to make your own tteokbokki recipe entirely plant based.
While I find that the anchovy broth really fills out the flavor profile, I tried making a vegan version (with just water) at home – and it was wonderfully delicious!
It’s so cool when recipes can be easily tweaked so everyone can enjoy them!
More Easy, Tasty Korean Recipes
Looking to create a Korean inspired feast for dinner? Here are some of my favorite recipes:
- Korean Sticky Chicken
- Vegan Jajangmyeon (Korean Noodles With Black Bean Sauce)
- Doenjang Jjigae (Korean Soybean Paste Stew)
- Cucumber Kimchi
- Kimchi Udon Stir Fry
- Korean Kimchi Soup
- 25 Asian Side Dishes
- 27 Japanese Recipes You Can Make at Home
- 29 Tofu Recipes That Will Make You Rethink Meat
Did you like this Tteokbokki Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!Print
Tteokbokki – Spicy Korean Rice Cakes
A delicious and incendiary Korean rice cakes recipe. Add this spicy tteokbokki to your steady rotation at home!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 24 mins
- Total Time: 34 minutes
- Yield: 4 small servings 1x
- Category: Main
- Method: Stove Top
- Cuisine: Korean
- 1 pound tteokbokki (Korean rice cakes)
- 3½ cups anchovy stock (or water)
- 6 x 6 inch piece dried kelp
- 3 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
- 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean chili pepper flakes)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 ounces Korean fish cake, rinsed, patted dry and sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 3 scallions, chopped
- Sesame seeds (optional)
- Soak rice cakes in water for 10-15 minutes (This step is for rice cakes that are hard. Skip this step if they are already soft).
- In a medium size pot over high heat, add anchovy stock and dried kelp and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, uncovered.
- Remove kelp. Stir in gochujang, gochugaru, soy sauce and sugar – and bring back to a boil.
- Add rice cakes and cook for 8-10 minute, stirring frequently until they are soft.
- Add fish cake and cook for 4 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Turn off the heat and stir in sesame oil. Add scallions, stir and transfer to a bowl. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top (optional) and serve.
Tteokbokki is best served immediately after cooking. While the spicy Korean rice cakes can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days, they will naturally get hard when they cool down. Definitely better fresh!
Keywords: spicy, mochi, Asian