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!
What can I add to tteokbokki?
Chopped scallions and sesame seeds are two of my favorite last minute additions to tteokbokki just before serving.
The nuttiness the sesame seeds bring, compliment the deep richness imparted by a dash of sesame oil.
And scallions deliver a fantastic garden-fresh brightness to the otherwise earthy, rich flavor profile.
However, my favorite addition to this delicious tteokbokki recipe is fish cakes!
Interchangeably called eomuk (어묵) or odeng (오뎅), Korean fish cakes can be sliced (and even stir fried) as a wonderful meaty addition to the starchy and spicy rice cakes.
Made of a whitefish paste called surimi (which is the main ingredient in things like imitation crab) and wheat flour, these Korean fish cakes deliver a nice bit of saline flavor to the dish.
They also get a wonderful caramelization on the outside if you give them a quick tumble in a hot pan for a few minutes.
You’ll probably need to go to an Asian market to find Korean fish cakes as they’re not typically sold at your corner shop in the West…
Now, while these fish cakes aren’t obligatory to add to your recipe, I think they add a wonderful bit of flavor and texture to the dish. So if you’re curious, give them a try!
How to make tteokbokki
This is a fun one, friends! Let’s cook!
Now, 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.
In a medium sized pot over high heat, add 3½ cups anchovy stock (or water) and a 6 x 6-inch piece of dried kelp and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Next, remove the kelp.
Then stir in 3 tablespoons of gochujang – and a tablespoon each of gochugaru (dried Korean chili flakes), soy sauce and sugar. Bring that back to a boil.
Now, simply add your rice cakes and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently until they are soft.
If you’re using Korean fish cakes in your own tteokbokki recipe, add about 4 ounces of sliced fish cakes to the mix and stir frequently for about 4 minutes.
We’re almost there!
Just turn off the heat, and stir in a teaspoon of sesame oil. Then add scallions and sesame seeds and serve it up to your hungry diners.
Spicy, nutty, savory, sweet and super filling – I promise it’s going to be a hit!
What do I need to make Tteokbokki at home?
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!
Considering the big-time taste in these little Korean rice cakes, you’ll have comparatively few items to shop for.
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?
In my own tteokbokki recipe, I utilize Korean fish cakes and anchovy stock to deliver a well rounded flavor and texture to the composed dish.
So, as it is, this recipe is not vegan.
That said, if you’d like to make a vegan version it can totally be done with minimal hassle!
You see, gochujang is packed with a wonderfully deep flavor – but is vegan.
Therefore, 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!
Korean rice cakes ftw!
Ever since I first made this intense tteokbokki recipe at home, Ben has been hounding me to make it again.
My advice to him was something along the lines of, “Hey… make it yourself!”
Well, he did.
And, let me tell you, he’s made it three times since then!
It makes me happy to see my hubby making yummy and spicy rice cakes in the kitchen. And – of course – I get to eat the delicious results.
What about you? Do you get cravings for spicy food out of the blue just like me? What do you make when the urge strikes? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.
Other delicious and easy Korean 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
- 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