Spicy Korean Rice Cakes(떡볶이), the street food of 50million Koreans

  Korean Rice Cakes

Everyone has their own childhood food cravings. It is the food they grow up with and it reminds you the memories of the past as you eat them. I grow up eating lots…, I mean lots of this dish. This is one of my favorite snacks when I was a teenager (I have lots of other favorites, too). This dish is called Ddukppoki (떡볶이), the spicy Korean rice cakes.

As a teenage girl in middle/high school(I attended girls only school, no boys there except teachers), I had to wear school uniforms, white blouse with black overall skirt and navy canvas shoes. The skirt should cover your knees completely. No girls liked wearing uniforms. There was no unique individual style whatsoever. Every girl looked exactly the same, only different in sizes.

Our school had very strict rules over its dress code. Not only the dress, the hair style too. Every one had a exact same hair style.  A simple black hair pin on one side of your head to hold the hair and the straight hair line that should sit just below your ears. No more than 1″ below the ears! No bangs, No make up, and No perms are allowed. If you violate any of this, you will get kicked out of school, period! There are lots of fun stories that associated with this dress/hair code, but I will share the stories some other time.

Things change! Korean school girls these days still wear uniforms but they get to have free hair styles and some even wears make up. I don’t think I ever showed my teenage photos to my piano man. I looked hideous on the photo, and every girl did look horrendous as well, whether they are very pretty or less pretty. It is the one evidence of my past that I would like to bury on the ground forever!

Anyway, somehow the subject matter(the food) went to a different direction. Let’s talk about this rice cake. This is the ultimate snack(can be a meal) for all Korean teenagers or anybody. I won’t be lying if I say 50million Koreans grow up eating this dish. As teenagers we were always hungry when school was over in the late afternoon. There was a big market square on the way to our neighborhood from the school. My friends and I often stopped by one of these rice cake vendors and stuffed our belly with this spicy goddess, the soft yet chewy rice cakes slobbered with spicy chili paste gochujang sauce!…. along with other things such as deep fried calamaris, vegetable fritters(Tuigim, 튀김), fish cakes(Odeng, 오뎅), etc… They were so tasty as I am thinking back and I crave them often these days.<

So I would like to share with you how you can recreate this dish at your own kitchen. This can be quite spicy if you are not used to the spicy Korean food. Burning sensation in your mouth! Besides serving this dish can be a good way to revenge your husband or boyfriend who forgot the important date… Let him burn!

Introducing the cast members from the top left ;
Fish cakes, rice cakes, pepper, ketchup,

Korean chili paste, sugar, dried sea kelp, dried anchovies, garlic, leek, cabbage.

First, you dunk anchovies and sea kelp in the water to make stock.
Let it boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

The stock will get more intensified as you let it sit, about 15 minutes.

Remove our ocean friends from the pot.

Reserve 4 cups of stock.
This is a basic stock for most Korean soups or stews.

The queen of Korean flavors! My royal highness!

Soak the rice cakes in the water to soften.
But do you see the oil floating on top?
They are coated with oil to prevent them from sticking for packaging.

If you don’t want the oil…

just blanch in the boiling water for 30 seconds.

This is an optional step.

Dice the cabbage beautifully like I did.

Slice the leek as you’re humming like a bird.

 Chop the garlic as you hit the high note on O Sole Mio!

This is optional but you will like the addition of the fish cakes.
Use your ruler to cut exact dimension like I did.

Just kidding!

Pour the reserved the stock in a non stick pan.
Add chili paste to the pan.
Now, if your husband or boyfriend forgot your important anniversary, add 4Tbsp chili paste.

If he forgot your birthday…, then add 6Tbsp or more!


Smear the paste with spoon to mix in with the stock.

Add sugar and mix well.

Place the pan over medium heat. Add rice cakes and cabbage.

Let them boil first and simmer over medium-low heat for 10 min,
until the rice cakes and the cabbage get soften.

The sauce will get slightly thicken, too.

 Add the fish cakes and garlic. Continue to simmer for 10 min,

until the sauce gets really thickened for your liking.

Add the leek and mix in well.

Now this is something you don’t have to add but I recommend you to try.
Add 1 or 2 Tbsp of ketchup at the end.

It will bring subtle tang to the sauce and adds beautiful deep orange color.

Lastly crack some peppers and sprinkle some sesame seeds.

Stir them well and it is ready to serve.

Sometimes I like being an happy pig!
I ate the whole plate shown in the photo below,
…and burped a couple of times after… Oh, my!

and thought about my high school friends.

Where are they now?

I am sure they all became Ajumma (아줌마) and live somewhere in Korea.

An important Korean vocabulary to learn!

—a married middle aged lady with permed short hair, walking in flip flops,
perhaps with a visor on her head, talking and laughing loudly,
and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag.
If you have a Korean girl friend, call her “Ajumma” and see how she responds…
You will love it!

But don’t you dare to call me Ajumma!

Spicy Korean Rice Cakes

Spicy Korean Rice Cakes (Tteokppoki)

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Serving Size: 4-6

Spicy Korean Rice Cakes (Tteokppoki)


  • 4 1/2C water
  • 8-10 dried anchovies
  • 1 piece of dried sea kelp, about 4" long
  • 1 1/3 lb (600g) rice cakes, usually comes as frozen
  • 4-5T Korean red chili paste (gochujang)
  • 3T sugar
  • 3 slices flat fish cakes cut into big chunks, optional
  • 1/2 cabbage diced
  • 1 leek, white and light green part sliced
  • 1 garlic chopped
  • 1-2T ketchup, optional
  • 1t sesame seeds roasted
  • dash pepper


  1. To make stock pour water in a pot, and add anchovies and sea kelp. Boil first and then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let it sit for another 10-15 minutes to get the full flavor. Reserve 4 cups.
  2. Soak the rice cake in the water for 5 minutes. If you want to get rid of the coated oil, blanch them in the boiling water for 30 seconds.
  3. Pour the stock to a non stick pan and add the chili paste and sugar. Mix well. Add rice cakes and cabbage. Boil over medium heat, reduce heat to medium-low, simmer uncovered until the cabbage gets soften and the sauce gets thicken.
  4. Add the fish cakes, if you wish, and garlic. Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes until the sauce gets well thickened to your liking.
  5. Add ketchup and stir well. Sprinkle some peppers and sesame seeds. Good to serve hot right out of pan. Napkins are a must!

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  1. 1


    While I didn't grow up in Korea, I definitely grew up in a household where ddukppoki was a staple. Now, whenever I go home to visit the family, my mom makes me be the one to prepare and make this dish! Mmmm, I may have to go buy some dduk tonight and make it tomorrow!

  2. 5

    Laura says

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe! My Dad lived in Korea and when I went to visit him this was my absolute favorite dish. Now I can't wait to get the ingredients together and make it for my boyfriend.

  3. 7

    Christy says

    Hi! Thanks for posting the recipe. I just left our local Asian market with a bag of refrigerated rice cakes and had not the slightest clue of how to go about cooking them. I'm heading out to the grocery store now to pick up the rest of the ingredients for your 'Spicy Korean Rice Cakes.' :)

  4. 8

    wensdelight says

    I love all types of Korean food! This looks so good! I'm glad that I found your blog!

    Does the cooked rice cakes keep well overnight in fridge? If reheated will the texture change?

  5. 10


    Hi Holly,
    Thanks for your fast help! Actually I had the same frozen ones as shown in your picture. But when I soak them they crack up. I also made tteok myself (poor attempt) and froze them for later and I have the same problem with them. Maybe some kind of storage problem? Or it depends on the temperature of the water?. Do you let them defrost slowly before you soak them?

    I will experiment some more tonight for dinner! :-)

  6. 12

    Buffy says

    Hello i wanted to know,is there another way to make this without using fish cakes and dried anchovies,i dont eat any type of seafood,but always wanted to try rice cakes :)

  7. 13

    beyondkimchee says

    Sure, you can use just plain water, vegetable or chicken stock. It will taste slightly different but still good. You can skip the fish cake. I sometimes add dry ramen noodles or sweet potato noodles (the Japchae noodle). It will be a carb explosion! :)

  8. 17

    beyondkimchee says

    Yes, you can use water instead of anchovy stock. But DO NOT add the fish
    sauce, it will make the dish very very salty.

  9. 18

    ch11k11 says

    Thank you so much for posting this I can't wait to try making it ^-^
    If I were to make a bigger batch, say for about 8 people, I just have to double everything, right? Including the amount of anchovies for the stock? And also, can I skip the sea kelp and just have the anchovies?

  10. 19

    beyondkimchee says

    You can double the recipe but reduce the amount of the stock and the chili paste a little bit first (by 1 1/2X instead of 2X). You can always add more if you need.
    You don't need to add kelp. Anchovies alone can bring wonderful flavor.
    Have fun making them and let me know how it turned out.

  11. 20

    ctall says

    I just found your blog and love it!  I lived in Korea for a year and half and miss Korean food.  I laughed outloud at your description of an Ajumma…you described them perfectly!!  I plan on using your tutorials to make some of that yummy goodness :) 

  12. 22

    beyondkimchee says

    Hi Cynthia
    Yes, you can change to chicken stock, but use low sodium one. You might want to reduce the chili passte just a little since most store bought chicken stocks have lots of sodium in them.

  13. 23

    Ninetyonedays says

    I am glad I came upon this recipe, very authentic…  how my Mom makes it too!  I like your style of presenting this recipe.  You are funny and creative :)

  14. 24

    Ga says

    Hi, I just made this dish now but found that it was too watery. I think maybe I put too much water in the pan. Love your blog.

  15. 25

    beyondkimchee says


    Hmmm, I'm sorry to hear that it was watery. It should be somewhat saucy but not watery though. I wonder it there was too much stock/water. Reduce the amount of liquid a little and cook up the liquid over higher heat, UNCOVERED. The sauce should eventually thickens and be able to coat the rice cakes over all. Hope this helps. Please let me know how it turns out next time.

  16. 27

    Dramaquin says

    I Loved your blog. Not only the dishes looks inviting but very entertaining too.  I've been dying for rice cake since last week.  Went to H-Mart in Irvine while visiting my daughter at UCI and was looking forward to buy the spicy fried dubokki but they were out of it at the ready cooked section.  Ended up buying the rice ovalette and gochujang sauce but not sure how to cook them until I saw your blog.  I am going to try to cook them today. Your recipe uses the long rice cake, is there any difference from using the oval type rice cake?  Before your blog I found an Ahjushi's blog but he didn't use enchovies and kelp but instead uses chicken stock.  

  17. 28

    beyondkimchee says

    Hi there,
    You can use chicken stock but it will bring slightly different flavor. Use low sodium chicken stock since the chili paste already has some sodium in it. Also you can use the flat rice cake slices as well. But reduce the amount of liquid into 1/2. The will get cooked faster.

  18. 29

    E Pancrazi says

    Great dish… I made some substitutions, using chinese xo sauce instead of anchovies, etc… still turned out delicious anyway!

  19. 30

    lafemme215 says

    Hi! First of all, i would like to say thank you for making this blogspot! i absolutely think your dishes look amazing and would like to try these rice cakes as soon as i can, i am not near a korean market and i currently have 'chili paste with soy bean oil' can i substitute this spice for the korean chili paste??

  20. 32

    kim hanna says

    totally awesome…its very great since i wanted to learn it…thanks to you..beyondkimchee…nice name huh

  21. 33

    Nanotayy says

    Hello, I am from Msia. do u have any idea what to replace the korean red chilli paste? This is because I couldnt find it here :(( found ur blog while looking for spicy korean rice cake recipes. hhehe :) 

  22. 34

    beyondkimchee says

    I found Korean chili paste at many cold storage stores in KL.
    Unfortunately there is no substitute for it since it is unique to Korean cuisine.

  23. 37

    Luv-Izza says

    where can i find the rice cake? am from malaysia and i love korean food ~wink~
    do you have any idea where to find it here instead of making the rice cake.

  24. 38

    beyondkimchee says

    There are several Korean groceries in Ampang and Mont Kiara. You should be able to find some there.

  25. 39

    Anonymous says

    I here in saudi arabia.i love korea and korean food.i will try to make a home-made rice cake.thanks for the information and God bless you always.bye(@!@)

  26. 42

    Kim says

    Is there a way to make the rice cakes with rice flour? I live in New Zealand and I shop at the most asian supermarket I’ve found in Auckland, and have yet to come across packaged Korean rice cakes or Korean chilli paste :/

  27. 44

    Sarina says

    Hi! I’ve tried cooking tteokbokki but its somewhat a fail? It’s too watery. Anyways thanks for this recipe. I will try it again next time with maybe less water. :)

    • 45

      Holly says

      It will have some liquid in the beginning stage. You just to have to continue to cook off the liquid over high heat once everything is soft, if you prefer the thicker sauce. Hope you get to give it another try.

  28. 46

    joey1113 says

    Thank you for posting this! It helped me a lot.
    My parents praised me and my sister cause we cooked this dish well.. :p
    I tried to make this dish by myself for my friends and they said it was good ^_^
    Thanks so much!

    • 48

      Holly says

      Hi Munirah2
      I don’t know much about Korean stores in Selangor. If you have chance to visit KL, There are many Korean groceries in Ampang and Mont Kiara area.

  29. 49

    cheryl s. says

    I am a white Jewish female and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE making and eating Korean food! My pantry and refrigerator are filled with Korean products! There are many Asian markets and a huge Korean market close to where I live so making these recipes is really easy.
    I am definitely going to make the Spicy Korean Rice Cakes tomorrow!
    I’ve eaten the fish cakes, they’re delicious, so I’ll be adding that to this recipe too. That addition should make this recipe really, over the top, delicious.
    I can’t wait to eat this!!!!
    Thanks so much for this blog.

    • 51

      Holly says

      It is dangerous to deep fry this type of rice cakes. When oil gets relly hot it will sear the surface of the rice cakes and the cake expands due to the heat. The moisture inside rice cakes will come to the surface of the cake and contact the hot oil. Boom! It will explode! Do not deep fry rice cakes!

  30. 52

    Anne says

    I bought some rice cakes 3 days ago from the Asian shop (I’m in New Zealand). They don’t have an expiry date on them but have gone rock hard in the packaging. I am sure they were softer when I bought them.
    Are they still OK to use? How long will they last in the fridge and if I freeze them will they change consistency?
    Thanks for your help.

    • 53

      Holly says

      Hi Anne
      They are still usable. Soak them in water for a few minutes first before you add to this recipe. The best way to keep rice cakes is freezing them. They can last quite a while, about 3 month in the freezer.

  31. 54

    Kellyann says

    Thank you for your blog Every recipe looks wonderful (without meat) I especially love spice-y food. I have only eaten Korean food bought from the store. I am definitely pinning you!

  32. 55

    Ross says

    Thanks Holly,

    I went to Bucheon and Jeju a month ago for my New Zealander son’s wedding to a lovely Korean lady, certainly not Ajumma (and I wouldn’t call anyone anything at all in Korea, having navigated a family home meal with trepidation and still hoping that we weren’t considered barbarians).

    We were very much hosted and I didn’t have a chance to strike out alone, so missed Ddukppoki.

    I’ve walked past a restaurant in Strathfield, Sydney Australia which advertises DDukbboki and (being a barbarian again) thought that it was just a catchy name. Now I get it. There did seem to be quite a few chic young Korean teens in proximity. so traditions live on despite the Macjunk chain.

    Just down the street from the aforesaid I found all the ingredients easily, Strathfield being one of Sydney’s little Koreas. One question: A few weeks ago I bought from Sydney city Chinatown some anchovy soup stock from Korea which is a powder. I also have whole anchovies which I bought to make that fried side dish. Which would be better for Ddukppoki? Or perhaps no difference?

    • 56

      Holly says

      Hi Ross

      Thanks for your comment. Ddukbboki is perhaps one of the *must try* street food of Korea. Hope you get to try soon.
      To answer your question, the powder form of anchovy stock, some has MSG and some don’t. Check the ingredients in the back. I normally don’t use the powder form of anchovy stock base but if MSG doesn’t bother you, it makes decent stock.
      The small dried anchovies for fried side dish, if they are the tiny kinds, they won’t make much flavor to make stock unless you use tons. So I would save them to make side dishes.
      If you are planning to make authentic Korean foods often, I would recommend to get some med-large size dried anchovies. Koreans use them often to make soups, stews, kimchi filling etc. You will find that I used them very often in my recipes.
      I chuckled a little when you mentioned Barbarians. That is funny description.

    • 57

      Dan says

      Hi Ross,

      I was wondering if you remember the grocer you bought the dduk from. I live in Sydney and no matter how many times I go to Korean grocers I can’t seem to find these wonderful rice cakes.

      Thanks ^_^

      • 58

        Ross says

        Pardon the delay.

        I found the rice cakes in the second Korean shop from the railway station along the Boulevard in Strathfield, passing the restaurant that sells Dukkbokki as a dish.

        The more extensively stocked Korean supermarket inside Strathfield Plaza has rice cakes too. Not so long ago this supermarket had fresh jujubes, which might excite our blog host.

        The Thai Kee IGA supermarket in Haymarket, Sydney CBD (Level 1 Market City) has them too as well as a limited range of Korean foodstuffs.

        All the rice cakes that I have seen in Sydney are made in Australia, they do work so I guess that they are satisfactory.

        • 59

          Ross says

          Another thought:

          Very close to the Thai Kee IGA supermarket and on the same level is a liquor shop called “Red Bottle” that always has Soju and other Korean liquors including Bek Se Ju, which I understand (Holly, correct me if necessary) is a way of obtaining a ginseng hit.

          The liquor shop in the Boulevard in Strathfield a block or so from the grocery is also well stocked with Korean liquor, in contrast to its ocker days when it was beer, wine and whiskey on the shelves.

    • 61

      Holly says

      Hmmmm, did you try to cook down the sauce? It will eventually thicken and the color will be intensified. Sorry to hear your rice cake was not as red as mine. But I hope you liked the taste, though. That is the most important thing, right? :)

  33. 62

    LI says

    HI! I loveeeeee the rice cakes but just need to know how can I store them overnight as i”ve made too much. And will it be good after I’ve reheated them the next day? Thnkas!

    • 63

      Holly says

      Unfortunately leftover rice cakes are not that great in terms of the texture once chilled with sauce in the fridge. You can reheat but they won’t taste the same.

  34. 64


    Hi! I made this dish a couple days ago and the flavor was delicious…but my rice cakes were kind of soggy :( Do you know why? I didn’t make the broth in the first step (i just used stock), so rather than soaking them in the hot broth for 5 minutes, I soaked them in instant hot/boiling water from my tap for 5 minutes. Now I’m confused what water you actually soaked yours in…just regular tap water??


    • 65

      Holly says

      Hi Amy
      Is your rice cakes fresh kinds (never been chilled or freezen)? Because you don’t need to soak fresh rice cakes since they are already soft. If your rice cakes are frozen, it might be that your rice cakes are not made of 100% rice. Some rice cakes contains wheat and they can be soggy after a long soaking or braising. Check the ingredients on the package. I soaked mine in regular tap water(hot).

  35. 67

    Mel says

    You have a great website! Quick question, your recipe is for the frozen rice cakes, I was able to buy fresh ones, how should I cook them? Should I add them after the sauce has thickened and cook for about ten minutes, or wait until the last minute? Thank you!

    • 68

      Holly says

      If using fresh rice cakes, reduce the amount of stock by 1/2. You don’t need to cook that long as it is written in the recipe. Other than that, you can simply follow the direction.

  36. 69

    Marinin says

    Hi, this sounds like a tasty and great recipe, however, I’m studying in the UK in an area where there is two tiny asian markets. I couldn’t find dried anchovies, is there anyway I can substitute or buy a stock which will resemble. I really would like to make my own stock but unfortunately I’m limited at the moment from ingredients.

    • 70

      Holly says

      You can use the dried sea kelp only if you can’t find the anchovies. You can also use powdered form of dried anchovies but make sure it doesn’t have too much sodium in it.

  37. 71

    Eden says

    I ate this for the first time today after being in Korea for a week. I loved it so much that I ended up here ! I can’t wait to visit my family back in Europe and cook this for them ! They’re going to love it (I just hope they have the ingredients at the asian supermarket). Thanks for the recipe !

  38. 72

    Tom says

    Just made this dish; it’s the first Korean dish I’ve ever made and I’m quite thrilled with the results. Awesome, thank you.

    I added a few squirts of toasted sesame oil near the end, which was a great addition. It’s my favourite secret ingredient.

  39. 73

    Enen says

    Hi hi! I love rice cakes!! And I really enjoyed this blog post of yours. You have a very interesting sense of humor! Hehe will definitely try out this recipe soon!!!

  40. 74

    Jane Lin says

    Hi love, thanks for your recipe, btw may I ask you why my rice cakes turn our hard and not that chewy after I cooked them? Pls help me:)

    • 75

      Holly says

      Did you use frozen cakes? If using frozen cakes, soak them in water for 10 minutes before adding to the recipe. They tend to get hard faster than fresh kind so they need longer cooking time.

  41. 77

    Berta Jean says

    I visited some friends in Korea this past spring and I am HAUNTED by this dish. I could not get enough of it. I almost got it from every vendor who sold it! There are a few local Korean restaurants where I live in the mdwest and I order this (or a similar stew with rice cakes and ramen) as an appitizer every time. I am going to make this over the weekend. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

  42. 79


    Hi, thank you for the recipes :)
    Could we replace the stock of anchovies and sea kelp with mix of water and chicken powder (the one from Knorr)?
    Thank you.

  43. 81


    I NEED immediate HELP! If I bought Korean Rice cake (Garaettok) to make Ttoboki or dak galbi how long can they last outside of the fridge? or should they be kept in the fridge all the time??


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