Tteokbokki. Chewy rice cakes coated in a sweet, spicy sauce with fish cakes. A popular and delicious Korean street vendor snack. Ready in 20 minutes!
What is Tteokbokki?
Tteokbokki, also spelled as topokki or dukbokki, is a very popular Korean street food featuring chewy rice cakes in a red spicy gochujang sauce with umami tasting fish cakes. You will find this dish served at many Korean restaurants or by street vendors in South Korea often paired with crispy gimmari. In translation, "tteokbokki" means "stir-fried rice cake" in Korean.
Traditional tteokbokki is a delicious comfort food that serves as a perfect snack that you can share with a friend. My version is slightly less spicy than the spicy version, but it's still spicy and not for the faint of heart.
There are also different variations of this Korean food, such as Rose Tteokbokki (creamy milder version - my personal favorite), Jajang Tteokbokki (black bean version), Gukmul Tteokbokki (soupy rice cakes), and Gunjung Tteokbokki (a soy sauce version).
I've made Korean spicy rice cakes so many times in different ways but I can never grow tired of it! Whenever I am watching a Korean drama and I see the characters munching on it, my mouth begins to water and I rush over to my fridge in hopes I have all the ingredients to make it. It truly is pure comfort food!
Please scroll down to the below Recipe card for full measurements
- Korean rice cakes: are made of a combination of rice flour grounded from short-grain rice and they have a bouncy chewy texture. You can easily find these at the Korean market. Make sure to get the cylindrical rice cakes that are about 2-3 inches long as rice cakes can come in various shapes from cylindrical to circular discs to extra long. I recommend buying fresh rice cakes or refrigerated rice cakes. Avoid frozen rice cakes as they easily splinter from my experience because they are hard and dry.
- If you only have frozen ones, soak them in warm water for at least 10 minutes to help them acclimatize and rehydrate.
- Cold water: or substitute with vegetable broth, chicken broth or anchovy broth for a more flavorful stock. Anchovy stock is traditionally used.
- Korean fish cakes: these come in sheets that are about 7 x 4 inches in dimension at the Korean grocery stores. You can find them in the refrigerated section. You can also substitute with fish balls if you can't find the sheets.
- If you're not a fan of fish cakes, substitute with sliced bacon, or hard-boiled egg.
- Dried kelp: this offers a lot of umami flavor to the stock - do not skip!
- Green onions: this gives our stock that oniony sharp flavor and I wouldn't recommend omitting this.
- Sesame seeds: recommended for a nutty flavor or substitute with sesame oil. If you're allergic, omit altogether.
- Gochujang: this is a Korean red pepper paste or red chili paste that is sweet, spicy and smoky. It's made of red chili flakes, fermented soy beans, glutinous rice and salt and commonly used in Korean cuisine. Gochujang is sold in different spice levels so make sure to get the mild kind if you're new to spice. It usually comes in a smaller or larger red plastic rectangular tub at the Korean grocer in the sauce aisle.
- Regular soy sauce: or substitute with low sodium soy sauce or light soy sauce or a gluten-free soy sauce of your choice.
- White granulated sugar
- Gochugaru: aka Korean chili flakes made of dried red peppers. These offer a lot of red color and spice to our dish. They can come in a large plastic package or in smaller plastic containers. It's often used in Korean cooking and can be frozen to extend the usage for months! I do this all the time with a new pack.
Note: Korean grocery stores or Asian grocery stores will carry these ingredients.
How to make Tteokbokki
Prepare Rice Cakes
Soak rice cakes in warm water for 5 minutes to help them rehydrate and adjust them to room temperature. Strain the liquids.
In a bowl, combine sauce ingredients until well combined and set aside.
In a non-stick pan, add water and dried kelp. Bring to boil.
Once it reaches a boil, mix in sauce until combined with water. Bring to a boil.
Add Fish Cakes, Rice Cakes & Green Onions
Add fish cakes, rice cakes and green onions. Lower heat to medium heat. Let it simmer for 10 minutes uncovered, until sauce has thickened.
Reduce Sauce & Garnish
Once sauce has thickened, remove off heat. Garnish with sesame seeds. Enjoy!
Storage & Reheating
This dish will last up to 4 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. To reheat, microwave for 2-3 minutes or reheat on the stovetop in a pan on medium heat until hot.
- Avoid using frozen rice cakes found in the freezer section at the Asian market. These easily splinter. Use the fresh or refrigerated kind. But if that's all you have, soak them in warm water for 10 minutes or longer until they become less hard.
- Do not skip soaking the rice cakes in water. They need to be acclimatized to warmer temperature to prevent splintering.
- Cut the fish cakes into triangles for easier consumption and more flavor!
- Have your sauce and ingredients all prepared to toss into the pan.
- Use a non-stick pan for easy clean up as the rice cakes can stick to a normal pan.
- Do not overcook the rice cakes as they will become mushy over time. Once they're chewy and fork tender, remove them off heat.
No, unfortunately they will turn hard with the cold. They're best consumed immediately.
I would suggest freezing it in a reusable sealed bag or an airtight container and it will last for months or even up to a year!
Other Korean recipes you may like!
- Dakbokkeumtang Korean Chicken Stew
- Jajangmyeon Korean Black Bean Noodles
- Korean Fried Chicken
- Korean Seaweed Chips
Quick & Easy Tteokbokki
- Soak rice cakes in warm water for 5 minutes. Strain the liquids.
- In a bowl, combine sauce ingredients until well combined and set aside.
- In a non-stick pan, add water and dried kelp. Bring to boil.
- Once it reaches a boil, mix in sauce until combined with water. Bring to a boil.
- Add fish cakes, rice cakes and green onions. Lower heat to medium flame. Let it simmer for 10 minutes uncovered, until sauce has thickened.
- Once sauce has thickened, remove off heat. Garnish with sesame seeds. Enjoy!