Tteokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes) is an incredibly popular street food item in Korea, known for its delightfully rich flavors and satisfying textures. This highly addictive and easy recipe brings together fresh rice cakes, fish cakes, boiled egg, and ramen in a delicious sweet and spicy sauce, giving an intense burst of umami flavor to treat your tastebuds.
What is Tteokbokki?
Tteokbokki (떡볶이), also known as dukbokki, topokki, or ddeokbokki, is a beloved street food snack in Korea with many variations and rich history. Literally translating to “stir-fried rice cake”, Tteokbokki compromises of garaetteok, cylindrical white rice cakes that have an addictively chewy texture.
These rice cakes are stir-fried with popular additions such as fish cake, ramen noodles, and/or eggs which are wrapped together in a blanket of umami-rich sauce made with a base of gochujang (Korean red chili paste). There are many variations of this dish, but the version I am sharing with you today is the closest of its kind to those at street food vendors in South Korea.
Key components to this recipe
Having grown up in Korea, there are fond memories of the food I grew up on, most notably the Tteokbokki that was served in the food carts in the streets of Seoul. I’ve made countless variations to my Tteokbokki recipe to trace back to that nostalgic taste, which is the recipe I will be sharing with you today. The sauce has an intensely rich umami flavor made with a base of a flavorful broth made with dried anchovies and kelp, which is the base of most Korean soup-based dishes. Here are what you will need for this recipe:
- Dried anchovies and dried kelp to create the base stock. These two items are essential in creating the base of most Korean soups, so I highly recommend buying these ingredients in bulk to use for your Korean dishes! Since they are dry ingredients, they will maintain their quality over a long period of time.
- Korean rice cakes (Tteok). I highly recommend using fresh garaetteok for this recipe, which can be found in Korean markets. For convenience, you can also use the frozen kind, but it will be slightly different in texture. When using the frozen kind, be sure to soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes to prepare for stir-frying.
- Korean fish cakes, which are often sold frozen, in sheet form. Preparation is easy – simply run under warm water for a few seconds to defrost to be prepared for stir-frying.
- Hard-boiled eggs and ramen noodles. These are optional toppings that you can add, which are my personal favorites! The ramen noodles should be boiled for about 2 minutes prior to stir-frying, to be added near the end of the cooking process.
- Green onions and sesame seeds for garnish.
- For the sauce: Gochujang (Korean red chili paste), Gochugaru (Korean red chili powder), soy sauce, sugar, corn syrup, and curry powder.
As long as you have these ingredients on hand, preparing Tteokbokki will be delightfully simple, made fresh in just a few minutes in one pan! Tteokbokki is definitely one of the most simple Korean dishes to make, but one that is incredibly delicious and addictive. It is satisfying enough to be served as an entire meal but makes for a perfect snack as well.
Tips to make the best Tteokbokki
In the few first attempts of making this dish, it’s been a challenge of mine to replicate the taste of those served at Korean street food stands. It took a couple of tries for me to perfect this recipe, so I am sharing with you a few essential tips that will bring your Tteokbokki to the next level!
- Try not to skip out on the extra step of making the anchovy-kelp broth. This is essential in bringing out the rich umami flavors of the dish, and will make a huge difference in taste! Like many dishes, the base is one of the most important components. To ease up the process, you can always make this broth in advance up to 7 days prior to use.
- Another key component of this recipe is to start with a generous amount of broth and sauce and simmer it down slowly to ensure all ingredients are packed with flavor, as well as the beautiful red colors that are significant of this dish. By speeding up this process, you will prevent the flavors from developing into each ingredient.
- Ensure all ingredients such as fish cake and ramen noodles are prepared according to instructions, prior to stir-frying. Using ramen noodles from scratch will soak up too much of the sauce into the noodles, and result in a dry Tteokbokki while leaving the noodles uncooked.
- Be creative with the optional toppings! Although rice cakes and fish cakes are the two core components to this recipe, you can add toppings like noodles (ramen noodles or glass noodles are popular additions), hard-boiled egg, tempura, or dumplings to bring the dish to the next level.
I hope you enjoy this easy and delicious recipe, and please leave me a comment below or message me on Instagram if you have any questions. Happy cooking!
Other Korean recipes you may like:
- Korean Marinated Eggs (Mayak Eggs)
- Korean Egg Drop Sandwich
- Kimchi Udon Noodle Stir Fry
- Korean Glass Noodle Stir-Fry (Japchae)
- Korean Seafood Pancake (Haemul Pajeon)
- Hamburg Steak with Melted Cheese
- Kimchi Fried Rice with Tuna
Tteokbokki (Korean Spicy Rice Cakes)
- 250 g rice cake fresh or frozen
- 2 Korean fish cake sheets defrosted and cut in bite-sized pieces
- 2 hard-boiled eggs optional
- 1/2 package ramen noodles boiled for 2 minutes prior to stir-frying
- 1 green onion chopped
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 10 dried anchovies
- 1 piece dried kelp about 2" X 2" in size
- 3 tbsp Gochujang (Korean red chili paste)
- 2 tbsp Gochugaru (Korean red chili powder)
- 2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp Oligodang Syrup, corn syrup, sugar or honey
- 1/2 tbsp Korean curry powder
- If you are using frozen rice cakes, soak them in warm water for about 10 minutes before cooking.
- Bring 3 1/2 cups of water to a boil on medium-high heat. Once the water starts to boil, add anchovies and kelp and reduce the heat to medium. Boil for 10 minutes, and discard the anchovies and kelp by using a strainer. This should yield about 700ml of stock.
- For the ramen noodles, slightly cook the noodles in advance to prepare for stir-frying, for about 2 minutes.
- Bring the prepared broth to a boil on medium heat. Add rice cakes and Tteokbokki sauce. Stir around the skillet to combine, then add fish cakes and hard-boiled eggs. Continue to boil, stirring often to prevent sticking. Once the sauce nearly thickened to your preference, add ramen noodles and green onion. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve immediately.